Sheriff Grady Judd Says, “It’s a good thing I ain’t Jesus” $768,000 Church Embezzlement Investigation

July 1 , 2020

By: Staff Report and Presser

WINTER HAVEN Fla. – Wednesday Polk County Sheriff’s fraud detectives obtained an arrest warrant and took 62-year-old Sharon McClelland Bradley of Lakeland into custody.

62-year-old Sharon McClelland Bradley of Lakeland YouTube Press Conference With Sheriff Grady Judd

Charges against McClelland are as follows:

Grand theft over $100,000 (F1)
Fraud (F1)
Criminal use of personal ID (F1)
Fraudulent use of credit cards (F3)
Forgery (F3)
Uttering false instrument (F3)
Money laundering (F3)

“This woman systematically stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a respected Winter Haven church for at least five years before she was caught. I cannot fathom how anyone could do this, much less someone employed at a house of faith,” said Sheriff Judd

“I know this. Jesus ain’t happy,” Judd said. “Jesus doesn’t like it. In fact, if I were her, I’d be asking forgiveness. It’s a good thing I ain’t Jesus. I’d say you send me $768,000, clean up the $190,000 that you left the church in debt, then come back and talk to me.”

In 2008, Bradley was hired as the finance secretary by Calvary Baptist Church (CBC) located at 2101 Overlook Drive SE in Winter Haven. In late 2019, the head deacon requested copies of the church bank statements based on a digital image seen by church staff that showed an active $225,000 line of credit, connected to another bank account that did not belong to CBC.

At that time, Bradley realized an audit was being performed, and she retired. The church staff contacted PCSO to do an investigation into the possible theft of church funds. During early 2020, PCSO detectives sent 20 different subpoenas to the various banks and credit card companies with which CBC had accounts. It was clear that the line of credit Bradley obtained was being used to put money into CBC accounts, which she was then stealing. There is still a balance of $190,000 on the line of credit that CBC will be responsible for paying off.

The different bank and credit card company records showed:

Bradley’s credit cards:
– In mid-2015, payments from CBC accounts began going to Bradley’s Capital One credit card account in May for a total of $19,673.74
– In 2016, there was a new Barclay payment along with the Capital One, for $62,104.06
– In 2017, new credit card payments were made for $133,936.84
– In 2018, the same credit cards and a reoccurring car payment was made for $151,647.14
– In 2019, credit cards and car payments for $114,705.40
– 2020 was a shorter period due to Sharon Bradley’s retirement, for a total of $45,925.37
Total = $527,992.55

Bradley’s Mid-Florida Credit Union account:
– Checks from CBC accounts were deposited into Sharon Bradley’s account for $21,278.69
– Cash deposits from cash payments to Calvary preschool between 2016 and 2020 amounting to $89,017.00 were deposited into her accounts
– Supporting records maintained by Sharon Bradley confirm cash payments in 2018, 2019, and 2020 that did not get deposited into the CBC accounts
– On 11-7-2019, a transfer from the CBC account to Sharon Bradley’s personal MFCU account totaling $4,000.00
– On 11-28-2019, a transfer from the CBC account to Sharon Bradley’s personal MFCU account totaling $3,000.00 – both transfers were payments for new pool at her home
Total = $117,295.69 deposited into the account(s) belonging to Sharon Bradley 

CBC’s SunTrust Bank account:
– In 2015, $15,135.96 in unauthorized purchases for clothing and beauty supplies and QVC products
– In 2016, $216.19 in unauthorized purchases to Netflix
– In 2017, $1,168.87 in unauthorized purchases to Wayfair, Bed Bath and Beyond, Kirklands
– In 2018, $3,084.93 in unauthorized purchases to Amazon, medical expenses, and entertainment
– In 2019, $4,433.10 in unauthorized purchases to SeaWorld, Amazon, and PayPal
Total = $24,039.05

CBC’s Sam’s Club credit card:
– In 2015, $22,481.61 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, medical, and Match.com
– In 2016, $16,791.00 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, and Jewelry 
– In 2017, $28,793.63 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing and PayPal
– In 2018, $22,410.10 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, and Bed Bath and Beyond
– In 2019, $8,059.93 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, and Home Depot
– In 2020, $187.17 in unauthorized purchases to Home Depot
Total $98,723.44

To date, a total of $768,050.73 has been identified with more than $600,000.00 of that confirmed. Further charges are pending a full audit and review from all records obtained during the investigation.

Bradley was taken into custody at her home without incident, and booked into the Polk County Jail.

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