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. Allegiant Air reports $400 million in revenue for second quarter

    Airlines
    Allegiant Air CEO Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. | [Courtesy of Tony Jannus Aviation Society]
  2. Dade City's Wild Things touts cub encounters as conservation, but experts say they lead to too many tigers languishing in cages

    Wildlife

    DADE CITY — A lifelong animal lover, Lisa Graham was intrigued when she saw photos on social media of friends cuddling and petting baby tigers at zoos.

    A tiger named Andy is seen at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. Big Cat Rescue is a nonprofit sanctuary committed to humane treatment of rescued animals, often coming from exploitive for-profit operations. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times

  3. Once close to death in Ukraine, sick girl finds hope in Tampa Bay

    Human Interest

    Everything was packed for Walt Disney World. Clothes for three nights. The pressurized air vest and pump that travel with her. The dress she would wear to meet Cinderella.

    Marina Khimko, 13, pauses for a moment during a walking exercise to test her prosthetic legs at a fitting appointment Dec. 7 at the Shriners Hospital for Children's Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services in Tampa.  [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  4. What you need to know for Thursday, July 27

    News

    href="http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2015/graphics/macros/css/base.css"> Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Marina Khimko, now 14, pauses for a moment during a walking exercise to test her prosthetic legs at a fitting appointment at the Shriners Hospitals for Children's Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services in Tampa.  [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  5. Colors and culture in Cuba overwhelm first-time visitor

    Travel

    I landed in Havana with many questions about what we would witness in our brief visit. There was so much rich history and culture I wanted to experience, but the stories I had heard from Cuban refugees rang in my brain. After the death of Fidel Castro, some Cuban immigrants danced in the streets of Tampa and told …

    Havana is a photographer's dream. Bright colors abound, from the walls to the classic cars to the streets filled with tourists, musicians and locals. All of these elements are a part of photographs that were so rare for Americans to capture until very recently. I loved photographing this scene in front of this perfect yellow wall.