Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cops: HOA Prez Pilfered $148K Of Association's Funds From 66-Unit Condo, Then Blew It At Nearby Casino; Arrest Culminates 2+ Year Probe Triggered By Financial Discrepancies Found By Replacement Board Members

In Pembroke Pines, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:

  • Luck finally ran out for a Pembroke Pines condo association president accused of gambling away the community's maintenance money at a casino.

    Nancy Marquez, 58, was arrested on charges she stole $148,012 from the French Villas condominium association, Pembroke Pines police said. Taken into custody, she admitted she commingled association funds with her own and used the cash to gamble at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, investigators said.

    "It made my day when I got the call," said current condo board member Paul Coffman upon hearing of Monday's arrest.

    Coffman said he and fellow board members found financial discrepancies in January 2011, when he replaced Marquez as association president for the 66-unit building in the 600 block of French Drive. "We got the invoices and everything for the two years that she was on the board and started going through them," he said. "Some things caught our eye that just weren't right."

    The board contacted police, who carried out an investigation that more than two years later resulted in Marquez's arrest.

    Because of the inquiry, Coffman and other board members couldn't publicly discuss the missing money — even to concerned condo residents, Coffman said. Meanwhile, bills were being paid late because of the shortage of funds, Coffman said. "When people kept complaining, you had to bite your tongue," he said.

    The association received notices from the city of Pembroke Pines that the water would be shut off unless utility bills were paid. Florida Power & Light Co. sent notices threatening to switch off electricity that powered hallway and parking-lot lighting in the community.
  • She was arrested on charges of grand theft and perpetrating a scheme to defraud. She was freed from jail Tuesday on $7,500 bond, records show. [...] In Pembroke Pines, the French Villas condominium association has since managed to pay down its debt through the satisfaction of liens against foreclosed units, Coffman said. As they sold, the association received a percentage of the money, Coffman said.

    "We were getting enough money to makes ends meet," he said. "We have caught up." The debt problems have not disappeared altogether, but the association is in better shape. "We're not sailing yet," he said. "We're still in a dinghy, but we're catching up."

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