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Ex-official with Bradenton shark research nonprofit arrested in $300K theft

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 2:30 p.m. February 28, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Christine Bedore, a former treasurer with the American Elasmobranch Society, a Bradenton nonprofit that studies sharks and stingrays, has been arrested on charges related to stealing at least $300,000 from the organization.

The Bradenton Police Department charged Bedore, 44, with felony scheming to defraud in excess of $50,000 and criminal use of personal identification in excess of $100,000, according to a Tuesday statement from BPD. Both changes are first-degree felonies. Bedore traveled from Georgia to Bradenton to turn herself in Monday, Feb. 27, police say.

BPD Detective Michael Carpenter began investigating Bedore in November 2023, after the organization's president discovered she was stealing from the nonprofit's checking and savings accounts, police say. Bedore had been the treasurer of AES since 2018. 

Financial subpoenas indicate that for more than five years Bedore made numerous electronic transfers and transactions totaling at least $300,000, police allege. She then used the money for personal expenses, including medical procedures, a vehicle, subscription services, utilities, pet insurance, travel, entertainment and more, authorities contend. “Financial documents also indicate unauthorized transactions for laboratory specimens and equipment used by Bedore,” the release states. 

The investigation is ongoing, police add. 

Bedore, in addition to her work with AES, is a biology professor and researcher at Georgia Southern University and has been featured on National Geographic channel’s "SharkFest” TV show, police say. Bedore’s Georgia Southern webpage says she has a doctorate from Florida Atlantic University and that her “primary research interests are founded in the sensory ecology of marine organisms.” 

Her work with the school and TV appears to have blended together. A July LinkedIn post from Georgia Southern promotes one of the TV appearances: “Dive into the fascinating world of sharks with Georgia Southern biology professor and researcher Christine Bedore, Ph.D., as she explores shark attacks on 'When Sharks Attack 360'!” the post states. “Catch it on National Geographic TV, Disney+, Nat Geo WILD and streaming on Hulu.”

Bedore’s Georgia Southern phone number went straight to voicemail. An email sent to her Georgia Southern account seeking comment bounce back with this message: "I am out of the office on leave until further notice. I will have minimal communication about university business during this time. … I am not accepting any new undergraduate or graduate students to my lab at this time."

AES, with members nationwide, uses a Bradenton P.O. Box address, according to police and the organization’s website. The organization, according to documents on its website, incorporated in Dade County in 1983 with objectives “to advance the scientific study of living and fossil sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras and the promotion of education, conservation and wise utilization of natural resources.”

The organization isn’t listed in Candid/Guidestar’s national database of nonprofits. An IRS database of nonprofits lists the organization on its “auto-revocation list,” which is “for organizations whose federal tax exempt status was automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.” That IRS page lists “American Elasmobranch Society Co Christine Bedroe” has another name for the organization. (The IRS notes that organizations on the revocation list might have since been reinstated.) 

The last time the organization filed a Form 990 tax return, the IRS database shows, was in 2019, when it had $440,113 in net assets. In that form the cover sheet lists Bedroe’s name and Georgia Southern as the main address.



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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