Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater woman accused of stealing $175,000 from law firm

CLEARWATER — A 34-year-old Clearwater woman is accused of stealing at least $175,000 from her employer over several years and spending it on vacations, trips to the hair salon, personal bills and student loan payments.

Kerry Sue McCallister-Higgins was arrested Monday night on a felony charge of grand theft.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, McCallister-Higgins had check-signing privileges as an office manager and bookkeeper at Golson Law Firm, which used to be at 601 Cleveland St. N.

Over the course of six years or longer, McCallister-Higgins wrote "multiple, unauthorized" checks to herself, an arrest report shows.

She used others to pay for credit card purchases at grocery stores, movie theaters, drugstores and various other shops. Others paid bills for hotels, hair-dos, rental cars, student loans and a cell phone, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.

At the time of her arrest, Detective David Kavanagh with the Sheriff's Office economic crimes unit had identified $175,939 in missing funds. But that amount may rise as detectives continue to investigate, Barreda said.

Of the current total, $46,471 was in the form of personal checks McCallister-Higgins paid to herself. The remainder went to third parties for bills for credit cards, student loans and other personal expenses.

The Sheriff's Office began investigating in March when the owner of the law firm, William Golson, discovered corporate checks written out to McCallister-Higgins.

McCallister-Higgins was paid by a payroll company, so there was no reason she should have been listed as the payee on company checks, Barreda said.

Golson no longer owns a law firm on Cleveland Street. It was unclear late Tuesday if he had retired or opened his firm elsewhere. He could not be reached for comment.

McCallister-Higgins was arrested at her home at 900 Woodley Road in Clearwater. She was taken to the Pinellas County Jail and released early Tuesday after posting a $50,000 surety bond.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, McCallister-Higgins has no previous arrests in Florida. She could not be reached for comment.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Clearwater woman accused of stealing $175,000 from law firm 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  2. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  3. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)

    Nation

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]