The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has charged a former Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce President with stealing more than $77,000 in Chamber funds while serving as both Chamber President and Office Manager.
45-year old Valerie Lott of Crestview turned herself in this afternoon at the Okaloosa County Jail on a charge of grand theft over $20,000 and less than $100,000.
An OCSO Investigator found evidence that Lott stole money from the Chambers’ accounts by using the Chamber credit card for personal purchases, fraudulently issuing checks, and making cash withdrawals from Chamber bank accounts. He says Lott also forged Chamber member signatures on checks.
The expenditures ranged from vet bills and Amazon purchases to a $4000 trip to Walt Disney World in November 2016.
The investigation began in August 2017 when a Crestview Chamber Board Chairwoman reached out to the OCSO after being contacted by multiple vendors about overdue unpaid bills.
She reported she had asked Lott to turn over financial records for a review. Lott collected the records and placed them in the kitchen area of the Chamber. Two days later, a suspicious fire took place that appeared to originate on the records.