Grace Elizabeth Crosson, awaiting trial for allegedly stealing more than $88,000 from Phoenixville (Pa.) Country Club, was hired in 2015 with the club apparently unaware that she still had six months remaining on a seven-year probation sentence for stealing nearly $26,000 from a previous employer.
Grace Elizabeth Crosson, formerly Grace Nance, is awaiting trial in Chester County (Pa.) Common Pleas Court for allegedly stealing more than $88,000 from Phoenixville (Pa.) Country Club, The Phoenix Reporter & Item reported.
Cresson used that money over a period of months before she was fired by the club, according to The Reporter & Item, to pay for a “lavish lifestyle” that included online purchases to concert tickets and two trips on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
Crosson was hired by Phoenixville CC in 2015 as a bookkeeper, according to The Reporter & Item, apparently in part because she had worked in that capacity for two years at a manufacturing company in West Goshen Township, Pa.
But the club hired Crosson, according to The Reporter & Item, apparently unaware that her previous experience at that job also included issuing fraudulent checks to pay for her own personal expenses and embezzling thousands of dollars from her employer, according to authorities. In March 2009, Crosson pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception for stealing $25,999 from UniPak Corp, a crime for which she was sentenced to seven years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution.
According to a former member of Phoenixville CC, The Reporter & Item reported, Crosson was hired to oversee the country club’s financial accounts in late 2015, six months before her probation expired.
She now awaits trial on multiple counts of theft by unlawful taking, dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property, criminal use of a communications facility and conspiracy for the alleged thefts from the country club from May 2017 until May 2018, when she was terminated from her position.
Crosson was arrested in March 2019 by Schuylkill Township Police after an investigation by two officers there, Officer Curtis Ponds and Cpl. Brian McCarthy, according to The Reporter & Item. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing, a signal that a defendant was contemplating entering a guilty plea.
Her attorney, Chester County Assistant Public Defender P.J. Redmond, declined to comment on the case, according to The Reporter & Item.
The investigation began in May 2018, when Ponds and McCarthy were assigned to the case by Police Chief James Fetterman after he had received information about a possible theft from Phoenixville CC, according to The Reporter & Item.
According to the arrest affidavit for Crosson, Ponds spoke to club President Joseph Little after being assigned to investigate, The Reporter & Item reported. Little told Ponds that he had gotten information from the club’s former General Manager, Anthony J. Lucas, that Crosson had made a number of suspicious bank transactions that she was asked to clarify. At the time, Little directed Lucas to contact Crosson. He then returned a short while later with $47,000 in cash, which he said he had recovered from Crosson.
According to the affidavit, over the next several months the club conducted an internal financial review of its bank records, The Reporter & Item reported. Club officials found that 45 checks from the club’s account at Phoenixville Federal Bank had been stolen, and that Crosson had made checks out to herself and deposited them in one of three accounts she held at another bank.
The investigators said that each of the checks they inspected, after having been provided them by the club, showed the signature of Lucas, the General Manager, who reportedly had earlier told the club’s internal investigators he had not authorized them, according to The Reporter & Item. Lucas, however, had resigned from the club previously and could not be reached by the police to discuss the transactions.
In all, the amount of money Cross allegedly embezzled from the club using the stolen checks totaled $86,825, according to The Reporter & Item. She also set up an automatic payment account at the club for Delaware County (Pa.) Community College, into which she funneled about $2,800 for her daughter’s tuition at that school, bringing the grand total of funds she is said to have stolen from the club to $88,573.
The investigation by Ponds and McCathy showed that during her time as the club’s bookkeeper, Crosson was being paid $29,000 in salary, according to The Reporter & Item. However, even though she earned another $33,000 in other income outside of her work as the club bookkeeper, she was spending at a far greater clip, with the investigators estimating that her personal expenditures during 2017 and 2018 totaled more than $105,000.
Their affidavit reports that in 2017, Crosson spent more than $4,400 on Amazon purchases, $3,500 on hotels, $2,300 on airline tickets, $2,800 at concert venues and casinos, and $6,400 on cruise ships, according to The Reporter & Item. She even spent more than $100 on fines and costs accrued by her daughter, Ashlee Nance, and her son, who was a juvenile at the time. Her expenditures in 2018, before she was fired after the alleged thefts were uncovered, were similar.
Once Crosson left the club’s employment, expenditures from the club’s account “decreased dramatically,” the criminal complaint states.
In the case from 2008, according to The Reporter & Item, Crosson, who was then known as Grace Nance, took blank checks from UniPak, on which she forged the signature of the company on checks she made out to her then-husband, Daniel Nance. The couple divorced in March 2018, about the time the thefts were being discovered from the country club.