New Orleans LA May 8 2017 A Kenner woman who served as the treasurer for The Greater New Orleans Tea Party was arrested on felony theft charges, accused of stealing $52,436 from the group.
Brandy Kay Cole, 43, of 4200 Chateau Blvd., Kenner, was booked Tuesday (May 2) with theft valued over $25,000 and bank fraud, according to Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.
Cole was elected treasurer in June 2009, shortly after the group was formed, according to a Sheriff's Office incident report. Cole handled the organization's financial affairs and was responsible for annually paying for the Tea Party's limited liability company status with the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office.
But board members began to pepper Cole with questions after the state canceled the group's LLC status for failure to pay in November 2015, the incident report said. Unsatisfied with her answers, the group elected an assistant treasurer to get access to the Tea Party bank account in September 2016.
Cole blocked the group's efforts, refusing to give them access to the account or provide password information that would allow them to check the statements online, according to the Sheriff's Office.
She continued to hinder the board's efforts until February 2017 when the assistant treasurer finally gained full access to the bank account and performed an audit, according to the Sheriff's Office.
They discovered Cole had been writing checks to herself, a relative and her business, BC Consulting, the incident report said. After auditing the books, investigators discovered Cole stole $52,436, Fortunato said.
The group removed her as treasurer on March 14 and contacted the Sheriff's Office on April 6. Detective Dwain Rullman obtained a warrant for Cole's arrest on April 26.
Cole was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna. She was released Tuesday on a $50,000 bond.
Greater New Orleans Tea Party Vice President Terri Timmcke released the following statement Friday evening:
"The Greater New Orleans Tea Party (GNOTP), in the interest of full transparency and disclosure, recently performed an internal audit of its financial books and records that revealed misappropriation of GNOTP funds. All of us at the GNOTP are deeply saddened and dismayed at this breach of trust and violation of the law perpetrated by this former member. All relevant GNOTP information has been turned over to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau in pursuit of a criminal investigation against the aforementioned former GNOTP member, and we are cooperating fully with this investigation. We are confident that justice will prevail and that our mission will continue unabated."