Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

September 7, 2012

Was Girl Scout leader caught with hand in cookie jar?

By Krystal Fowler and Kyle Ocker, Daily Iowegian
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — Heather Lynn Benjamin, 30, of Centerville, the former leader of Troop 665 in Centerville, has been charged with first degree theft after being accused of stealing $12,035.96 from her troop's account between Oct. 3, 2011 and Aug. 29, 2012.

According to the complaint and affidavit from Centerville Police Officer Brandon Knapp filed Sept. 4, from October of 2011 to August of 2012, Benjamin was allegedly using the troop account at Community 1st Credit Union as her personal account, registering 158 transactions to restaurants, convenience stores, ATM withdrawals and other personal purchases.

The troop held two sales one in fall 2011 and one in spring 2012, raising $17,043 from selling cookies, nuts and magazines.

According to Knapp's complaint and affidavit, Benjamin sent a check for $7,500 to the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa Council and the check was returned for non-sufficient funds. The account was closed by the council on or about Aug. 29 with a balance of $5,007.04. The remaining balance was applied to the $17,043.00 the troop owes. Benjamin is accused of stealing $12,035.96 from the account, an amount the troop still owes to the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa Council.

The affidavit goes on to say that Benjamin admitted in an interview on Sept. 4 to stealing money from the account.

Benjamin was being held on a $10,000 bond but was later released on her own recognizance. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19 at 8:30 a.m.

First degree theft is a class "C" felony in the state of Iowa. If convicted of a class "C" felony, the punishment can be up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.