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No Gifts for Florida Foster Kids

January 19, 2010 permalink

Kristie Feliz Smith, a worker with an agency overseeing children in Florida custody, has been arrested for stealing gift cards intended for Christmas gifts for foster children.



Ex-social worker spent gift cards meant for kids, cops say

By JOSH POLTILOVE | The Tampa Tribune, Published: January 19, 2010, Updated: 04:06 pm

Kristie Smith
Kristie Smith

An employee for an agency that oversees thousands of children in state custody was supposed to mail Walmart gift cards to foster families.

Instead, she used several of the gift cards for her own purchases, Tampa police say.

Officers arrested Kristie Feliz Smith, 23, Thursday morning and charged the Hillsborough Kids Inc. employee with third-degree grand theft.

Smith was supposed to mail gift cards so foster families could buy items for children, police say, but 13 gift cards earmarked for foster families were not received.

In October, Smith was captured on a New Tampa Walmart's surveillance cameras making a purchase with six of her employer's gift cards, buying $288.13 in personal items, Tampa police say. Another gift card was used at a Walmart at Florida Avenue and Busch Boulevard, and another was used at a Walmart at Dale Mabry Highway and Bearss Avenue.

Five gift cards were deactivated before purchases were made.

Smith told officers she had used the gift cards at the New Tampa Walmart but that she thought they were cards her mother had sent her, an arrest report states. She also said she had been responsible for mailing the foster parents the envelopes that didn't contain gift cards.

Police say Smith had reimbursed Hillsborough Kids Inc. for $400, the value of eight gift cards, but she denied having shopped at two of the three Walmarts.

Smith, who became a full-time employee of Hillsborough Kids in August, served as an administrative assistant, said Ed Savitz, the agency's general counsel. She is no longer employed by the agency.

Smith has been released from jail on $2,000 bail.

Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 259-7691.

Source: The Tampa Tribune