An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published December 15, 2009


Yes, the owners whose money was embezzled -- the amount of the money missing increases the more they look -- are getting updates: There are meetings in which they are being told that actually very little has happened in the last 16 months -- since the embezzlement was "officially" discovered.


I'm not quite sure why everybody involved is dragging their feet? Is it because the owners are mostly elderly  -- most are 80 plus years old -- and the enforcement agencies hope that a majority of the owners will die in the near future and the whole embarrassing case will go away?


Isn't it ridiculous when the owners have to pay a special assessment for an audit that is still not completed 16 months later? Or for paying a law firm that has little to report 16 months later?


The suspicion that Stacey Herrin was not the only one involved in the whole embezzlement scheme is growing among the owners. But the ECU says that there are no other persons of interest in the moment. 


Isn't it suspicious if other parties that played a part in the money transactions are not willing to cooperate, leaving a lot of open questions:

  • How was it possible that the executives of Star Hospitality Management, Inc., the management company in charge of the money, didn't see the red flags? 

  • How can a bank (Sun Trust) pay out certificates of deposit to a person that is not the actual bearer of the CD?

  • What will the lawsuit demanding documents against Jim Voden reveal? Jim Voden failed to respond in a timely manner to the lawsuit, according to attorney Scott Petersen from the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff.

And the biggest of all questions: How can so much money disappear without anyone involved in the managing of the association funds getting alarmed by all the red flags?


In a closed meeting on November 18, 2009 between the members of the Executive Council of Charlotte Square Condominiums and Scott Petersen from B & P really nothing new was revealed, beside the fact that Jim Voden hadn't responded to the lawsuit in a timely manner. Otherwise the council members listened to information that was more or less generic: 

  • The audit isn't completed, but a completed audit given to the sheriff's office would speed things up.

  • Becker & Poliakoff can proceed with litigation against Stacey Herrin, but a criminal conviction would lessen the burden of proof needed for the civil case.

  • Victim(s) are permitted to address the court before a plea bargain is entered.

The public meeting of the Executive Council of the Charlotte Square Condominiums on November 23, 2009 was as well filled with FEEL-GOOD INFORMATION. Randy Whitney's (Economic Crimes Unit) report was very vague and totally lacked any definite statements. But, funny enough, he as well mentioned plea bargain.

Here are the interesting excerpts of the minutes of this council meeting:



         John Hill moved to change the order of business so that Randy Whitney of the Economic Crimes Unit could address the meeting. Randy explained that there were ten complaints .... one for each house and one for the Square. State does not want to handle them as one. There is no base line for beginning amount, so it's difficult to ascertain actual losses. Plea bargain won't occur until everything has been filed. ECU has gone back to 2006. Restitution is unlikely due to lack of funds. She will probably not be charged with forgery since it is such a minor charge compared to the first degree felonies.

There are no other persons of interest at this time. Randy will try to let us know when an arrest is forthcoming ... but it may be a surprise to them as well. There is a total of 1.2 to 1.3 million loss. $50,000 is first degree felony. It looks like there are 4 fist degree felonies. Chelsea will be the first complaint filed.  

New Business: Members agreed to renew Becker & Poliakoff's annual contract. There was considerable discussion regarding involving the press. Owners supported contacting the press. Attorneys recommended NOT involving the press. Eight of the nine council members agreed NOT to notify press.  


Let's face it: 16 months and nothing really happened. Little progress has been made. The owners paid a special assessment, their monthly dues have increased, but the folks supposedly working on solutions have nothing more to offer than explanations what might -- and might not -- happen.


I especially liked the statement: "Restitution is unlikely due to lack of funds." Sure, the party accused of embezzling the funds had 16 more months' time to enjoy her ill-gained loot! The longer they wait to arrest and prosecute her, the more money will be spent. Plea bargain -- that's the easy part.

Here is the deal:

  • Rat out your co-conspirators.

  • The bigger the amount of restitution the lesser the jail time.

What's so difficult about that? And why is it already discussed at a time when not even an arrest has been made -- much less an audit prepared: 16 MONTH LATER?


I especially liked the attorney's recommendation NOT TO NOTIFY THE PRESS!


Believe me -- I can really understand why the attorney makes this recommendation. 

They really don't want these facts as headlines in the media:

16 month later the audit hasn't been completed, the attorney is actually talking about getting the draft ready for the preliminary complaint -- and not even an arrest has been made. 


That really is embarrassing -- wouldn't you agree? Would you like to see such failure making the headlines in the local media if you were one of the people in charge?


It was really interesting to see that the owners wanted the media involved, while 8 (eight) members of the Executive Council voted against notifying the media. What does it tell you?


In short, this case just underlines what I am saying all along. We live in