Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey woman, 80, accused of stealing $44,000 from St. Stephen's Episcopal group

NEW PORT RICHEY

Church member stole $44,000, authorities say

An 80-year-old woman was arrested Thursday on charges she stole more than $44,000 from a church group while serving as its treasurer. According to authorities, Earla B. Ferguson, of 10740 Central Park Ave. in New Port Richey, had been treasurer of a women's group at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church since March 2000. The New Port Richey Police say a church member noticed missing funds and contacted authorities. The investigation revealed Ferguson wrote church checks out to "cash" and kept the money, police said. According to her arrest report, Ferguson admitted the thefts and said she did it because she came into "financial difficulty." She said "she knew what she did was wrong and that the money belonged to the church," the report said. Ferguson is charged with scheme to defraud and was released from the county jail Thursday on $10,000 bail. People at the church at 5326 Charles St. are stunned, said Jim DeLa, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. "A trust has been violated," he said.

PORT RICHEY

Neighbor's mail used for ID theft

Some of an elderly neighbor's mail ended up in Brett Becker's box one day in 2006. Armed with that information, authorities say, Becker used the woman's identity to set up an account with Playboy.com and VSMedia.com, a video chat system. The woman, who is now 86, noticed a withdrawal of $58.75 from her account in April and went to talk with her bank. She was told the money was being deducted monthly and given the name attached to the charges. She contacted the Pasco Sheriff's Office and the investigation revealed the accounts were set up nearly three years ago, and there had been a total of $2,175.06 in charges. Becker, 37, a Denny's waiter who lives at 11831 Meadow Drive, was arrested Wednesday and is charged with identity theft and scheme to defraud. He was released from the Land O'Lakes jail on $12,000 bail. According to his arrest report, he said the theft began when he "accidentally" opened the woman's mail after it was wrongly delivered to him.

WESLEY CHAPEL

Bodybuilding event tonight at WCHS

The most unusual of Pasco County's graduation season processions across a stage will take place tonight at Wesley Chapel High. The 10th annual Mr./Miss Wesley Chapel bodybuilding competition will be held at 7 p.m. at the school's Center for the Arts. Admission is $6. The event features male and female students, most slathered in posing oil. Girls compete in several categories including symmetry, best legs and the overall Miss Wesley Chapel title. Boys compete in separate weight classes for titles such as best abs and the overall Mr. Wesley Chapel crown. Last year's competition featured 13 girls and 18 boys. Wesley Chapel football and weightlifting coach John Castelamare is the event's organizer.

New Port Richey woman, 80, accused of stealing $44,000 from St. Stephen's Episcopal group 05/28/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 28, 2009 7:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yankees executive Jessica Steinbrenner seeks restraining order against ex-husband

    Civil

    TAMPA — Jessica Steinbrenner, a top executive with the New York Yankees and a daughter of the team's late owner George Steinbrenner, is seeking a restraining order against her ex-husband.

    New York Yankees excutive Jessica Steinbrenner, with her then-husband Felix Lopez Jr. in this 2008 photo, filed for a restraining order against Lopez in Hillsborough County last week. 
[Times files]
  2. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with Cobb on the hill

    Blogs

    The Rays will take on the Orioles again tonight in game two of the four-game series and will have free-agent-to-be Alex Cobb on the mound.

  3. Hurricane evacuations halted for lack of ambulances at VA's Young center

    Veterans

    As many as 30 patients who should have been evacuated from the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center were left behind during Hurricane Irma because the hospital and the county couldn't agree on where they should go.

    Lorraine Johnson-Mitchell, back home in St. Petersburg on Monday, said she watched in disbelief as hospital staff seemed to scramble without a plan to evacuate patients like her from the VA medical center in St. Petersburg before Hurricane Irma. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. South Florida poaches debris pickup trucks once slotted for Tampa, officials say

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — A week into the job of picking up an estimated 300,000 cubic yards of Hurricane Irma debris from its streets, Tampa City Hall is finding to its dismay that the challenge is more competitive than expected.

    Yard debris from the winds of Hurricane Irma line many yards along Pinellas Point Drive South, St. Petersburg, 9/22/17.
  5. Wisniewska: I protected our students and USFSP campus

    Columns

    Throughout my tenure in academia, my focus has always been on putting students first.

    The USF St. Petersburg Campus, Thursday, June 19, 2014.