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Couple's hired helper helped herself, police say

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

For more than five years, Ted Henter and his wife, Mary, trusted their personal assistant to handle their money. After all, Asheley Carol Jordan was a friend.

But over the past year and a half, St. Petersburg police said, Jordan stole nearly $117,000 from the couple. On Wednesday, police arrested Jordan, 36, on a charge of grand theft.

The Henters trusted Jordan to pay their bills. Instead, police said, she used their money to pay her own credit card bills, medical expenses and even for home remodeling.

"She used the money for all kinds of things," said St. Petersburg police Detective Rickey Barber.

Henter is a member of the board of directors of Freedom Scientific, a St. Petersburg company that specializes in developing software and other technology for people with vision impairments.

According to the biography on the company's Web site, Henter, 55, has received numerous awards for developing computer software for the blind. The company says he developed his passion for technology while taking computer classes at the University of South Florida after he was blinded in a car accident in 1978.

Reached at his home on Thursday, Henter said he didn't want to talk about the arrest because he still cares about Jordan. "She is a friend of the family," Henter said. "We wish her the best."

Jordan, a St. Petersburg resident, could not be reached for comment.

She did not stir any suspicion in more than five years of work, police said. But for the past year and a half, they said, Jordan used the Henters' money to write checks for her own purchases.

Police said she entered bogus records in the computer software program the Henters used to keep track of their money so it would seem that the checks were being written for legitimate purposes.

A personal accountant for the Henters became suspicious in December when reviewing their finances, police said. He noticed that their money was not going to the places Jordan said it was.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sppimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

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