Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough child welfare employee accused of stealing gift cards meant for foster families

TAMPA — A 23-year-old employee of a child welfare organization has been charged with stealing Walmart gift cards meant for the families of foster children, according to Tampa police.

Management at Hillsborough Kids Inc., 9309 N Florida Ave., started receiving complaints from foster parents that they had received envelopes and notes from the agency without the promised $50 Walmart gift cards on Oct. 21.

When officials checked, they found out that six of the cards that were supposed to be mailed had been used at the New Tampa Walmart.

Unsure if the cards were taken by an employee or postal worker, Hillsborough Kids contacted Tampa police and U.S. postal inspectors in November.

The organization is a child welfare contractor for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Thirteen gift cards worth $50 each did not make it to the intended foster family, the police report said. Eight of the cards were used at area stores, and five were deactivated before they could be used.

On Jan. 14, police interviewed Hillsborough Kids employee Kristie Feliz Smith of 8611 Tessara Lane and asked if she was responsible for placing the envelopes in the mail, the report said. She said she was one of those people, but denied stealing the cards.

Police showed a surveillance photo of her leaving the New Tampa Walmart on the day someone made $288 in purchases on six of the stolen gift cards, and she acknowledged it was her in the photo, the report said.

She told police that she must have mixed up the Hillsborough Kids cards with the gift cards her mother sent her in the mail.

Police said when they told her the envelopes were sealed in the accounting office and that she would have had to open them to get the cards, Smith told them she reimbursed Hillsborough Kids $400 and should not be charged. Management verified that she had paid them money, police say, but officers still arrested Smith on grand theft charges.

She was released from a Hillsborough County jail Jan. 14 on $2,000 bail.

Hillsborough child welfare employee accused of stealing gift cards meant for foster families 01/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 11:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cue the Scott Frost to Nebraska speculation


    Nebraska shook up the college sports world Thursday afternoon when it fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

    And that should scare UCF fans.

  2. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  3. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay


    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  4. William March: Frank Reddick says all-white Tampa council possible


    A decline in the percentage of black voters in Tampa's only majority-black City Council district, District 5, has council member Frank Reddick worried.

    City Council member Frank Reddick said that if Tampa can't maintain African-American voter numbers, he could be the council's last African-American representative. [JAMES BORCHUK   |   Times (2016)]
  5. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]