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Sunday, May 19, 2019
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Lawsuit: Tarpon Springs woman stole nearly $50,000 from Clearwater church

CLEARWATER — An Iowa insurance company is suing a Tarpon Springs woman, claiming she embezzled about $50,000 from the Clearwater church preschool where she once worked.

GuideOne Elite Insurance said in its lawsuit that Melissa Hollis "without permission took approximately $50,000 from her employer," which resulted in a $25,000 payout to that employer, North Bay Community Christian Academy, an affiliate of North Bay Community Church.

The insurance company is suing Hollis to recoup its losses in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

According to court records, North Bay Community Christian Academy received the $25,000 payout in August 2016 after filing a claim for "employee dishonesty losses."

GuideOne had Studler, Doyle & Company, a forensic accounting firm, investigate the claim. Investigators said they found a total of $40,015.73 had gone missing between January 2015 and July 2016, court documents show, but North Bay was only covered for $25,000.

The lawsuit alleges Hollis was an employee of North Bay during that time and is responsible for the missing money. However, there is no record of Holllis’ arrest in Pinellas County, nor are there records of a theft reported at North Bay, authorities said.

Representatives of GuideOne and North Bay declined to comment. Hollis did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts

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