Sheriff's Office Administrator Arrested For Stealing From Police Fund

St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Finance Director Raye Brutnell was arrested on 163 counts on Tuesday.

St. Augustine, FL – The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office fired its finance director on Tuesday, after it was discovered that she allegedly embezzled nearly $700,000 from the county’s operating funds and officers’ benevolent fund.

Raye Annette Brutnell, 47, had worked for the sheriff’s office since Mar. 5, 1991, according to the Historic City News.

In January of 2013, she was named as the department’s finance director, which placed her in control of the agency’s budget, accounts payable, payroll, purchasing, and other related duties, The Florida Times-Union reported.

She allegedly began embezzling from the department nine months later.

According to court documents, two employees in the budget and finance office alerted administrators about the suspected theft on Nov. 14, after they discovered Brutnell had written 63 checks to fictitious vendors over a five-year span, WJXT reported.

The cumulative amount of the checks totaled $673,422.

St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar immediately placed Brutnell on leave, and asked the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s financial crimes division to investigate the allegations against her, The Florida Times-Union reported.

“We were able to take immediate and corrective action,” Sheriff Shoar said. “We feel confident that at the conclusion of this case, any monies taken inappropriately will be recovered.”

Investigators discovered that Brutnell made many of the checks payable to individuals whose names varied slightly from those of some of her family members.

She allegedly took $24,350 from the department’s benevolent fund, including $899 in car payments, $4,436 for her mortgage, and $3,145 to her father’s retirement community, among others.

Brutnell allegedly told Polk County investigators that she had created fraudulent vendor accounts and instructed her employees to set them up.

“She advised her employees wouldn’t question her because they assumed she was doing what she was supposed to be doing,” the warrant said, according to The Florida Times-Union. “She advised if something came up, she would claim it was per the sheriff so no one would question it.”

Brutnell said Sheriff Shoar was unaware of the offenses she was committing.

"This is a very difficult time for our agency," Sheriff Shoar told reporters on Wednesday. "It's profoundly disappointing when it's [someone] you know and love and care about."

"We had two women in this organization that worked for the suspect in this case [who] adored her, like we all did," he said. "They did the right, morally courageous thing, and they came to me."

Brutnell allegedly admitted to having stolen the funds “because of the financial strain her family is going through,” court documents read, according to The Florida Times-Union.

According to the Historic City News, Brutnell was receiving a salary of $108,885 per year when her fraudulent activities were discovered.

Her husband, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Supervisory Special Agent in charge of the Tampa Regional Operations Center Mark Brutnell, was earning an annual salary of $116,000.

Brutnell also claimed that “she did not realize the magnitude of this fraud until she was provided with the dollar amount,” the warrant read, according to WJAX.

She said she “did not realize she has a spending addiction,” investigators noted.

Investigators determined that Brutnell’s husband was unaware she was stealing from the sheriff’s office, WJAX reported.

“Of the money she embezzled, only $9,000 remains,” the warrant read, according to The Florida Times-Union.

Police believe that additional stolen funds may be discovered as the investigation continues, The St. Augustine Record reported.

“[The investigation is] in the beginning stages and additional fraud can be expected to be uncovered pending a forensic audit of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office financial records during the time the suspect, Raye Brutnell, was employed,” the affidavit read.

On Tuesday, Brutnell turned herself in at the Flagler County Jail, and currently faces 163 counts, including grand theft, fraud, and forgery, WJAX reported.

She was immediately fired from the sheriff’s office.

Brutnell was released later the same day, after posting $265,000 bail.

Comments (34)
No. 1-18
RIDGERUNNER
RIDGERUNNER

I can't help but wonder if the money used to post bail was some of the money that was stolen. She was making close to $109,000 a year and her husband makes $116,000 per year and they were in financial trouble? What the blue blazes was she spending it on besides the few things she mentioned? And stealing from the """"" POLICE""""" Seriously? Thankfully she had a couple of co-workers who were intelligent enough to see the "RED FLAGS" But still she pulled this off for 5 years before getting caught. Shameful. Really shameful.

RPG156
RPG156

All embezzlement begins with a trust employee. Just shows that everyone needs oversight and independent audit on a regular basis.

amdguru
amdguru

She get off easy because she's a woman and she was a friend to the dept. If I had embezzlement charges on me, which she should have though it wasn't mentioned, I would be looking at many years in prison. For her however, I bet she gets a slap on the wrist. Excuses will be made for her.

Officer Cynical
Officer Cynical

Brutnell is the real victim here, because she “did not realize she has a spending addiction." Understandable, because we all blow $700K on candy and cigarettes and stuff.

MajScallywag
MajScallywag

There is absolutely no excuse for this behavior and this thief needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Perhaps some prison time would help her with her spending addiction? It’s worth a try.

Secesh1861
Secesh1861

Prison time would be good for her. Walt Disney once said: “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

THEDUKE
THEDUKE

No excuses for this filthy lowlife - Lock her up for several years .....and fine her 700k (or from her equivalent assets) just make make a point .

shayrae
shayrae

Was her bail posted with the money she had stolen from the department? Should've been no bail and prison.

Stanracer
Stanracer

This should be good for some very special, double secret probation. (Sarc).

BobIn704
BobIn704

Sorry, but no way the hisband didn't know SOMETHING! WIth that much more money coming in...come one! Fire his ass as well and sell his house and all assets and pay back the police department! IF HE DIDN'T know about it, then this should be a wake up call to know what our spouses are doing all the time!

junkmansj
junkmansj

How far to the nearby casino?

jkm7706
jkm7706

florida and corruption seem to go hand and hand

HAWAIIBLUE
HAWAIIBLUE

Wow there’s always one dumb a$$ who thinks they can get away with it. All that money spent and she couldn’t look less like a dude? Talk about bad money managing.

Janken
Janken

You wonder how she got away with this. Aren't they audited every year. Doesn't make sense. She needs to go to jail

Janken
Janken

Maybe get husband never saw any of the money. To make that kind of money in wages boggles my mind. She got started taking and got way out of hand

Ngtowl1966
Ngtowl1966

How did she post 265,000 if she had to steal from the dept due to financial issues?

NavyLEOSupport
NavyLEOSupport

Florida sure does seem to have its share of sociopathic, white collar vermin. Stealing from cops and their families deserves 15 years in jail and 1.5 x the monies paid back. What a pitifully selfish woman. 😡

racerjon
racerjon

Her and her husband had a combined income of $225,000 per year and were in financial trouble? On my SS check, I make $13,200 dollars a year. I was in charge of a bank account that had in excess of $500,000 in it. I went without needed medications because I couldn't afford it that month and wouldn't touch a dime of what didn't belong to me. And this wench steals all this money from a policeman's fund? Jail now, no bond and mandatory time. I could show a lot of people how I could survive on $109,000 a year very easily.