Putnam County School District board member Nikki Cummings was arrested Friday afternoon on one felony charge of grand theft at Walmart in Palatka.
According to a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office release, deputies received an anonymous tip Tuesday that Cummings, 41, attempted to leave the store with unpaid merchandise Monday. The two-term board member qualified for the 2018 election Wednesday. She face longtime Crescent City educator Holly Pickens in the Aug. 28 primary.
The release said a loss prevention employee told deputies the suspect went through self-checkout, and receipts showed purchases worth $32.07. The release said the suspect attempted to leave the store without paying for an additional $388.39 worth of items in her cart.
When the suspect and an employee sorted through the merchandise, the release said, the suspect left the store with the items on her receipt.
During a sheriff’s office’s investigation, the release said, deputies found a May 30 incident where the suspect went through the self-checkout with items in the cart that were not scanned, including three fishing poles.
Sheriff Gator DeLoach said elected officials should exemplify the best qualities of the community and act in the best interest of the public.
“It is reprehensible an elected official, who is charged with public trust, could blatantly break the law. Cummings’ behavior is inexcusable,” DeLoach said. “This is not a black eye on her reputation, but rather the reputation of our community.”
DeLoach said the suspect’s opposition to the guardian program to arm school employees was not a factor in the case.
“The two issues are really separate in my opinion. I appreciate Ms. Cummings taking the position she did and certainly I don’t hold that against her,” DeLoach said. “As far as I’m concerned, that issue has long since been resolved.”
The suspect was arrested on one felony count of larceny grand theft less than $5,000 and held on a $2,500 bond. The suspect was released 16 minutes after she was booked, according to the Putnam County jail log.
The Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office and the sheriff’s office are still investigating the incident.
An arrest warrant was signed by the Seventh Judicial District State Attorney’s Office Friday morning. Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer Bryan Shorstein said the investigation was ongoing.
“Like any investigation, we’re in the beginning stages of it,” Shorstein said. “It will be assigned to a prosecutor sometime next week, and then we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.”
Cummings did not return calls seeking comment.