Eustis, FL – The former head of the Lake Eustis Area Chamber of Commerce has been arrested for grand theft after chamber officials reportedly discovered thousands of dollars missing from their coffers.
Lake County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Christie Gilpin Bobbitt Friday night and charged her with grand theft. She posted bond several hours later and was released just after midnight.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the chamber’s accountant found several suspicious checks drawn on the Chamber of Commerce account between Sept. 21, 2016 and Jan. 6, 2017. The three checks were written to Bobbitt, the executive director of the Chamber, in the amount of $1,600, $2,000 and $1,500. Investigators say the checks were deposited in Bobbitt’s personal account, but she later explained to Chamber officials that they were for Chamber business.
A fourth check for $4,000 was written as a cash withdrawal, and “the memo written on this check was inconsistent with the explanation provided to (the accountant),” the affidavit says. Chamber policy requires that any check for more than $300 have two signatures, but the checks deposited in Bobbitt’s account had only one, investigators say.
According to the affidavit, immediately before or immediately after Bobbitt deposited the Chamber checks in her account, she made large purchases from that account, including cruise tickets worth thousands of dollars.
In all, investigators documented nine questionable checks worth $11,609 that Bobbitt allegedly drew from the Chamber account.
Bobbitt, who left the Chamber in March and was hired as a reporter for the Daily Commercial, declined Monday to comment on the advice of her attorney. The Daily Commercial has placed her on administrative leave without pay while the case makes its way through the courts.
Michael Holland, a member of the Chamber board of directors, said the chamber is cooperating with investigators and simultaneously reviewing its policies and procedures to see if they need strengthening in the wake of Bobbitt’s arrest.