[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 08/06/20]
EUSTIS, Florida — A phone call about a missed credit card payment this spring, unraveled at least seven years of a Mount Dora woman’s fraud, totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars — and now she must answer for her crimes.
Kali Telana, 60, who worked for the victim as a bookkeeper since 2004, is accused of using the 80-year-old victim’s business credit card to purchase items to keep her business afloat, Goddess Productions, 3411 County Road 19A, Mount Dora and then using money obtained by checks and transfers from the victim’s business account to pay the credit card bill, according to a probable cause affidavit.
In April, the victim received a call from his credit card company about a missed payment on a card he told Telana to close in 2007 and he learned she had been using the card for personal purchases since she had allegedly closed it. The victim confronted Telana and she admitted she used the card to keep her business afloat and he fired her. Telana promised to pay him back and close the account as he requested 13 years ago.
The victim began researching his records and found Telana not only used the credit card, but also paid the payments with money embezzled from his checking account, according to the affidavit. The victim’s records only dated back to 2013, but he told Eustis Police he believes Telana had been stealing from him for much longer. The total amount the victim was able to track between the credit card and fraudulent checks was $293,232.35, of that $96,232,35 was stolen from his checking account, the affidavit states.
In June, an EPD detective spoke with Telana at Goddess Productions and she asked the detective, “Are you here to take me to jail,” when he walked in, the affidavit states. The detective assured her he was not and confronted her about using the victim’s credit card. She admitted to using the card and the checking account to cover her tracks and told the detective she is trying to secure a loan from friends to pay the victim back.
The detective asked Telana how much owed her longtime employer, she responded, “I think I need to give him a million dollars,” but later changed it to $200,000, the affidavit states.
A warrant was issued for Telana’s arrest for organized fraud over $50,000 and grand theft over $50,000 on a victim over 65 years old on July 1. She was arrested July 27 and taken to the Lake County Jail where she was released on $35,000 bond just over an hour later.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]