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State arson investigator accused of embezzling $7,100

LAND O'LAKES — Deputies arrested a state arson investigator who is accused of stealing nearly $7,100 from an arson investigators association.

Joy Anne Stuiso, 37, is an arson investigator for the Florida Fire Marshal Division, 8600 Hidden River Parkway in Tampa. She also served as a treasurer for the Florida chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators between March 2011 and May of this year and kept financial records for the state chapter at her Land O'Lakes home, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states.

In that time, reports state, Stuiso used one of the association's debit cards about 50 times to take $7,100 for her own use. Investigators found evidence in a hotel invoice and a receipt for a Western Union Speed Pay used to make a car payment, reports state.

It's unclear when the association discovered it was missing money, but records show the matter was reported to the Sheriff's Office in August. Records also showed Stuiso had paid back more than $4,100 of the stolen money, leaving roughly $2,900 still missing, reports state. Deputies upgraded her original charge of grand theft to embezzlement.

Stuiso turned herself in Tuesday through the State Attorney's office, said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin.

She told authorities she had confused the association's debit card with her personal card, Tobin said, but "she used it multiple times, which led us to believe that this was more than an oversight."

Stuiso was booked in the Land O'Lakes jail and was released the same afternoon on $500 bail.

Stuiso is still employed with the State Fire Marshal. She was put on administrative leave and no disciplinary action has been taken, according to chief financial officer spokeswoman Deborah Jamison.

Alex Orlando can be reached at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

This article has been revised to reflect the following clarification: State arson investigator Joy Anne Stuiso served as treasurer of the Florida chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators. Her role with the organization was unclear in the original version of this article.

State arson investigator accused of embezzling $7,100 11/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 10:36am]
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