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Sheriff Judd: 'Queen of Grinches' charged in attempt to steal toys from Polk charity

Tammy Strickland, 38, faces 166 felony counts and 28 misdemeanor charges. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
Tammy Strickland, 38, faces 166 felony counts and 28 misdemeanor charges. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
Published Dec. 21, 2016

Sheriff Grady Judd says his office arrested a real-life Grinch accused of taking part in a scam to steal toys from the Polk County Toys for Tots charity.

Tammy Strickland, 38, of Eagle Lake, faces 166 felony counts and 28 misdemeanor charges. Bail was set at $180,000 because of the number of charges.

Judd, who called Strickland "The Queen of Grinches" during a news conference Tuesday, is accused of filing applications using fictitious names for adults and children with Toys for Tots this year to try and obtain toys she intended to keep for her personal tax preparation business.

Strickland had advertised giving a free toy to clients.

"It certainly lowers you overhead if you're stealing the toys from Toys for Tots," Judd told reporters.

Strickland is a former volunteer for the charitable origination, the sheriff's office said.

After receiving a tip from Crime Stoppers, sheriff's detectives began an investigation, Judd said.

Undercover sheriff's detectives then arranged to meet Strickland at a Toys for Tots warehouse on Monday "to collect the donations for the children on the applications," the sheriff's office said. Strickland arrived shortly after 10 a.m., and with the help of several family members accompanying her, loaded the toys on a utility trailer.

She was then taken into custody, arrested, and transported to the Polk County jail without incident, the sheriff's office said.

Strickland's vehicle, a 2005 Cadillac Escalade was seized.

Detectives served a search warrant at Strickland's home and found 118 unwrapped toys still in the packaging. A witness in the home said the toys were from Toys for Tots, the sheriff's office said.

Detectives determined Strickland submitted Toys for Tots applications during 2015 as well, the sheriff's office said. Those applications are under review for authentication, and several have already been determined by detectives to have been fictitious, the sheriff's office said.

An investigation in ongoing.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.