CLOSURE IN EMBEZZLEMENT CASE
OWNERS OF BOCA RIO TOWNHOMES RECOVER PART OF THEIR FUNDS!
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published December 4, 2010
Remember the rage of the owners in the Boca Rio Townhome community when they found out that quite some of their association funds had disappeared into the coffers of the Hard Rock Cafe and other casinos?
Remember the public outcry when Assistant State Attorney Preston Mighdoll said state laws that regulate homeowners associations lack criminal sanctions, making financial crimes hard to prosecute?
In this case the homeowners in the Boca Rio community finally got some sort of Happy Ending -- quite a good chunk of the embezzled funds could be recovered, thanks to the hard work of Jean Winters, Esq. from the Boca Raton law firm of Winters & Winters, PA.
Jean Winters worked
tirelessly hour after hour to go after Betty Marshall, the former
president of BOCA RIO TOWNHOME ASSOCIATION, INC.
The law firm of Winters & Winters, PA was retained by Boca Rio Townhome Association, Inc. to represent the association against former board president Betty Marshal, her husband Albert Marshal and former vice president Mike Addessi. Those three persons were charged with embezzling more than $400,000 of association funds. The association finally settled with Mike Addessi, when it realized his part was relatively minor in comparison to the theft by the Marshals.
actual theft had occurred over a period of two-and-a-half years. Then
board president Betty Marshal handled the day-to-day affairs of the
association, and only she had access to the bank statements. After first writing herself more than $13,000 in checks, Betty
Marshal took out two debit cards on the Association’s bank account.
Using these debit cards, Betty Marshal helped herself to more than $400,000 of the association’s money. Here are some of the debit card purchases that Betty Marshal charged:
Hotel Casino & Spa in
gambling purchases at offshore trading and/or gaming locations in
and point-of-sale debits at various other locations, including
and airline tickets in
v Rental cars, cable and Internet services, and Napster file sharing service.
association members exposed the Marshals, a new board finally called the
police. The next day Betty and
Albert Marshal fled from Florida to their home in Pennsylvania.
Five days after their escape to PA, the Marshals conveyed title to
their Pennsylvania home from both of their names to Albert Marshal’s
name only – in hopes of avoiding creditors (like the Association).
The Marshals had already refinanced their Boca Raton property for
more than twice what it was later worth, and the bank foreclosed on
that property. Only the Marshals’
PA home had substantial equity remaining.
attorneys had as well to battle with the insurance company that claimed
there was no coverage. Indeed
there was coverage and the association recovered $150,000 from the
insurance company. As the next step on the road to recovery of funds,
Winters & Winters, PA filed
a lawsuit for conversion, fraud and for fraudulent conveyance, taking
steps to prevent the Marshals from draining all the equity from their
on the amount of damages was set for October 20, 2010, but on
the day before the trial the Marshals finally caved in. The
Boca Rio owners obtained a consent judgment of $250,000 and title
to the Marshals’ Pennsylvania property. Upon sale of this home, Boca Rio
could recover up to $100,000 in equity. Everybody
dealing with these issues knows how difficult it can be to collect from
embezzlers -- especially from gamblers -- if there is no criminal
prosecution. Boca Rio owners were actually fortunate to get the deed to
The State Attorney's office was only willing to prosecute Betty Marshal for the checks, not the credit card embezzlement. Betty Marshal’s criminal case is still pending.
October 19, 2010, Winters & Winters, PA resolved the case against the
Marshals in Boca Rio Townhome Association’s favor -- giving the owners
of the Boca Rio community some sort of closure after this horrible
experience with bad neighbors.
all know that embezzlement and fraud are rampant in
the fact that there are a lot more embezzlements of association funds than
there are bank robberies, our
Since our government forces developers to create community associations, our government should create the necessary laws to protect the owners against embezzlement, theft and scams, making NEIGHBORS STEALING FROM NEIGHBORS a criminal offense, strictly prosecuted by our law enforcement agencies.
The owners of the Boca Rio community were lucky enough to recover a big part of the embezzled funds -- thanks to the hard work of their attorneys, Winters & Winters.