News4Jax - The finance director for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office was arrested Tuesday on a warrant accusing her of embezzling $700,000 from the agency in recent years.
Raye A. Brutnell, 47, turned herself in at the Flagler County jail to face several felony fraud and theft charges linked to what investigators suspect was a long-running embezzlement scheme.
Brutnell, an employee since 1991 and the agency’s finance director since 2013, was placed on leave once the investigation began. She was fired immediately after her arrest.
An arrest warrant indicates two budget and finance employees came forward Nov. 14 after they uncovered 63 checks totaling $673,422 issued to bogus vendors during a five-year span.
In a statement, Sheriff David Shoar praised the employees for bringing the issue to light when they did, adding that investigators are optimistic they will be able to recover any misappropriated money.
"We were able to take immediate and corrective action," said Shoar.
According to her warrant, Brutnell used variations of relatives' names to create bank accounts for phony vendors, forged signatures on checks to vendors and deposited the checks into her own account.
She said she was motivated by "a financial strain on her family and that she did not realize the magnitude of this fraud until she was provided with the dollar amount," according to the warrant.