Embezzler Paying $1 Per Month Restitution Taking Mexican Cruise

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A former state worker who stole more than $14,000 in Florida tax money is now enjoying a cruise to Mexico.

Court records show Leon County Judge Kevin Carroll signed off on the cruise.

It's prompted outrage from both the state attorney and the victim.

Bill Poole is the owner of One Fresh Stir Fry.

The restaurant owner says his goose was nearly cooked when former Department of Revenue employee Deloris Speed made fake tax receipts and pocketed the money.

When the state came after him, Poole fortunately had the real receipts, a problem he compared to a near traffic accident.

"What just happened was that I walked out in front of a car and somebody pulled me back and I was okay," Poole told us in July.

For her more than $14,000 theft, Speed was ordered to pay restitution at a snail's pace, $1 a month or more than 1200 years to pay it off.

But the court order has her payments ending after three years for a total of $36.

Facing that payoff, Speed recently asked a judge to let her go on a cruise she says was a gift for her 50th birthday.

"Rather than going on a cruise, she ought to be paying that money back," said State Attorney Willie Meggs.

Meggs' office requested a hearing to object, but Judge Kevin Carroll signed off on the trip without one.

"It just doesn't strike me as the right thing to do and the right message to send," Meggs said.

According to her schedule, Speed is taking a slow boat to Mexico.

Friday's schedule calls for a fun day at sea with an arrival in Cozumel on Saturday.

Poole calls it an ongoing slap in the face.

"That woman, who put my life, my family everything I worked for at risk gets away scot free," Poole said.

We attempted to contact Judge Carroll for comment, but were unable to reach him.

By: Lanetra Bennett
July 1, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - One dollar a month. Sounds like a deal. But, some say it's actually more like a steal.

A former state employee charged with embezzling money is ordered to pay back nearly 15,000 dollars at a rate of only $1 a month.

Tallahassee business owner, Bill Poole, says he got a call saying he owed close to $100,000 in sales tax. "I told them they were crazy." He says.

Authorities say an employee at the Florida Department of Revenue stole the money.

Deloris Speed was arrested for the theft back in 2011. A judge recently ordered $14,817.62 in restitution to be made in payments of $1 per month.

That would mean it would be 1,235 years before the money is paid back.

Pool says, "That woman, who put my life, my family, everything I worked for at risk, gets away Scott-free."

Poole says Speed took the money when he went to D.O.R. to pay taxes on his restaurant, '1 Fresh Stir Fry.' "She would board me. What that means is she'd put plastic under the receipt, write me a receipt for let's say $10,000. When I left, she'd pull the plastic out, write a receipt for, let's say $5,000; put $5,000 in her pocket and walk out the door and go home."

Poole says it's a good thing he saved his receipts. He says, "The reality of what happened was I walked out in front of a car and somebody pulled me back and I was okay. But, I could've been killed. Everything that I worked for, everything that I dreamed, everything that I loved could've disappeared."

Speed was also given three years of probation and ordered to write Poole a letter of apology every six months.

"If I was the person that did the wrong deed, I would have to pay back every penny, penalties. I would lose my house, lose my business, lose my standing in the community. That's what's upsetting because there is a double standard."

Eyewitness News called to ask Judge Fulford about this sentence, but, we were told she is not allowed to comment on cases.

Speed's attorneys have not returned our calls.

The Department of Revenue says, "We encourage the electronic filing of tax payments which provides benefits to both the taxpayers and to the State. For the taxpayers, filing errors are detected and corrected and for the state, the money is quickly deposited into the state treasury."

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