Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Thrift store manager accused of taking money intended for Tarpon Springs charity

TARPON SPRINGS — The manager of a thrift store that helps support the nonprofit Shepherd Center of Tarpon Springs has been arrested on suspicion of diverting thousands of dollars from the store for her own use over a period of three years, according to police.

Cynthia Chapman, 55, of Tarpon Springs was arrested Sunday on a felony count of scheming to defraud the prominent charitable organization. Tarpon Springs police said Chapman took $4,582 from the Shepherd Center thrift store between January 2009 and the beginning of this year.

Police said the missing money was brought to their attention by the Shepherd Center, which offers free food, clothes and health services to the poor and operates the thrift store on S Pinellas Avenue in downtown Tarpon Springs.

The store, which opened at its current location in 2007, generated $228,000 through sales in 2010, according to tax records. That made up almost half of the Shepherd Center's $529,000 in annual revenue, the rest coming from grants and contributions.

Beverley Billiris, former Tarpon Springs mayor and president of the Shepherd Center board of directors, said Chapman's employment was terminated months ago after board members and staff became aware of "discrepancies" in the center's finances, and that the information they had was promptly reported to police.

Billiris said the episode should not reflect negatively on the Shepherd Center, which is struggling, like many charities, to find adequate grants and contributions in a down economy.

"It would be negative if we took a blind eye to it and didn't prosecute," she said. "I think that anyone that contributes to the Shepherd Center will appreciate that we do have strong oversight."

Chapman was released on $5,000 bail Sunday from the Pinellas County Jail. She did not respond to phone calls and a note left at her home in Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs police Detective William Peters said Chapman acknowledged taking the money from the Shepherd Center, but never said what became of it. "She admits that she diverted the funds," Peters said. "She never would tell us why or where they went."

Peters said Chapman was taking the money from a stream of revenue that came from Anclote Metal Recycling in Tarpon Springs. The thrift shop brought unusable donated items to the scrap-metal facility, which paid for them. Peters said Chapman began taking that money, which was supposed to go from Anclote to the Shepherd Center.

Michael Moritz, operations manager at Anclote Metal Recycling, said he was "flabbergasted" when he learned of Chapman's alleged behavior.

"She was very kind, a very nice woman," he said. "I just couldn't believe it."

Tarpon Springs police Capt. Jeffrey Young said detectives continue to investigate and might file additional charges in the case.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (727) 445-4157.

Thrift store manager accused of taking money intended for Tarpon Springs charity 08/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 5:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Daniel Ruth: Public money built Bucs' stadium, so let public sell tickets


    Who knew the Tampa Bay Bucs were actually the Daisies of Dale Mabry?

    Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, wants to do what it takes to ensure that those sitting in the lower bowl of Raymond James Stadium are wearing his team's colors. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]

  2. America's opioid problem is so bad it's cutting into U.S. life expectancy

    Public Safety

    Prosecutors in New York announced this week that an August drug raid yielded 140 pounds of fentanyl, the most in the city's history and enough to kill 32 million people, they told New York 4.

    The average American life expectancy grew overall from 2000 to 2015, but that the astounding rise in opioid-related deaths shaved 2.5 months off this improvement, according to a study. [Associated Press]
  3. After Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay officers headed south to help out

    Public Safety

    When Hurricane Irma was forecast to pummel the Tampa Bay region, Tampa police Cpl. Whitney McCormick was ready for the worst — to lose her home and all of her possessions.

    Tampa International Airport Police Department Sgt. Eric Diaz (left) stands next to Tampa Police Department Cpl. Whitney McCormick at the Collier County Command Post in the days after Hurricane Irma. More than 100 local law enforcement officers traveled from Tampa Bay to help out the county. (Courtesy of Whitney McCormick)
  4. Forecast: Sunny skies, mainly dry conditions continue across Tampa Bay


    For Tampa Bay residents, Wednesday is expected to bring lots of sunshine, lower humidity and little to no storm chances.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Florida education news: Irma makeup days, HB 7069, charter schools and more


    MAKEUP DAYS: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart waives two of the required 180 days of instruction to help districts complete the …

    Education Commissioner Pam Stewart