Three arrests have been made in a case involving missing funds from the Helping Hands Thrift Store located in Blountstown.
On December 26,2013 board members of Helping Hands came to the Sheriffs Office after discovering that the bank account was overdrawn and several thousand dollars were missing.
Following an investigation by the Calhoun County Sheriffs Office CID it was discovered that money had been misappropriated for several months. The store had been under the management of Hali Phinney. Admittedly, Phinney had been using Helping Hands funds to purchase the prescription medication, Tramadol from other employees, customers and other individuals. Employee Sabrina Cooper admitted to facilitating transactions for Phinney to purchase Tramadol, and had been cashing Helping Hands checks to give to other individuals for pills on Phinney's behalf.
During the investigation it was discovered that volunteer, Josie Kilby had been paid through the Helping Hands account. Kilby was actually performing community service hours for a previous drug charge. According to Kilby she was paid by Phinney for Tramadol pills. The Tramadol pills were being sold for $1 per pill but Phinney had been paying as much as $3 a pill to another customer.
Helping Hands Thrift Store has been a thriving organization that has helped many families in the community for many years. The thrift store receives funding from monetary donations as well as donated clothing and household items that are resold. Throughout the investigation it was learned that employees had been paid overtime in clothing or store items, and were paid cash out of the register on a regular basis. Employees alleged that Phinney was taking cash from the store on a regular basis.
Due to a lack of record keeping there is no way to know an exact amount of cash that was taken from the store.
Hali Phinney has been charged with Grand Theft (over $300 but less than $5,000), and Solicitation to Purchase Prescription medication. Sabrina Cooper has been charged with Principal to Grand Theft and Sell of Prescription Medication without a License. Josie Kilby who was on probation for Sell of a Controlled Substance has been charged with Sell of Prescription medication without a license, and is being held without bond.
Any questions involving the operations of Helping Hands need to be referred to the President of Helping Hands, Joanne O'Bryan or Vice President Kenneth Edwards.
Information provided by the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office