by: Wendy Corona Updated:
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. - The former leader of a Douglasville Girl Scout troop is in trouble after police said she stole the troop's money.
At its peak, Troop 798 had about 120 girls involved, which kept their bank account comfortably between $15,000 and $18,000, leaders told Channel 2's Wendy Corona.
The funds the girls collected should have been going to outings and trips, but were instead allegedly paying for the troop leader's lifestyle.
"From gas to food to dating services, different things," said Sgt. Todd Garner of Douglasville Police
Department, explaining where Darlene Jo Lewis, 49, of Villa Rica, allegedly spent thousands of dollars from a Girl Scout troop account.
Lewis posted bond for the federal charge of theft by taking in Douglas County.
Garner said more than $9,000 was stolen from Girl Scout Troop 798, which has been disbanded since May 2012.
"Dipping into the funds appeared to become an easy habit for her," said Tracy Williams, who was Lewis's co-leader for the last three years of the troop's existence.
"She had a PayPal account hooked to the debit card and was just making her own personal purchases off of the troop account," Garner said.
Garner said Lewis made purchases at Walmart, Sam's Club, a Christian bookstore and a senior dating website.
According to Williams, it wasn't until she became a co-leader with Lewis in 2010 that Lewis had anyone to answer to with regard to the troop's finances.
"I continually asked to see bank statements and always got excuse after excuse. She even told me once, 'I looked at the balance and thought there was more than that,'" Williams said.
Williams said by this point the troop's account only had about $6,000.
"She did pay some money back over time, but out of the over $10,000, she only paid back a few hundred," Garner said.
Corona went to Lewis's home to get her side of the story, but she did not answer the door and called a Carroll County Sheriff's deputy to tell Corona and her photographer that they were not welcome on her property.
"She had a couple of years that she was taking the money out, she could've put it back in and probably no one would've noticed," Garner said.