Article Courtesy of My
By Karla Tucker
Published February 4, 2020
PANAMA CITY BEACH — A Panama City Beach woman is facing multiple charges after
deputies say she embezzled more than $400,000 dollars from a Horizon South
Condominiums Homeowners Association.
Cynthia Hayes, 55,
reportedly stole the money while working as a bookkeeper for
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office started its investigation at
the beginning of 2019 after reports from several homeowner
association members, deputies say.
News 13 spoke with Sergeant Stephen Rhinehart on Friday
morning about the investigation he says that dates back to
2012 or 2013.
He says Hayes was terminated from her position after the
“From that point on, they had a forensic audit conducted on
all their accounts because the homeowners association is a
whole giant entity and then it’s got a lot of small entities
inside of so they had to go through everything throughout
the entire HOA bank accounts to figure out exactly what was
going on,” Rhinehart said.
Rhinehart says the search had to be extra thorough due to
the level of access Hayes had.
“She was the bookkeeper and had access to
all the funds, dozens of bank accounts involved so she had
taken out credit cards, she had taken out loans, moved money
from accounts in people’s names.”
While the amount of money reportedly
stolen was significant, Rhinehart says Hayes used it for day
to day expenses.
“From what we can tell, it looked like a lot of personal use so stuff for
her, her family, her home. I can tell you she wasn’t living a life of luxury
which was kind of strange for the amount of money she took. It wasn’t being
used for anything extravagant but it was just normal day to day things.”
Rhinehart said HOA members were shocked when they learned of the alleged
“I don’t know what their active role in keeping guard over all their money
and everything going on in the accounts was I think they realized they
weren’t doing enough of what they should’ve been to have some checks and
balances working there who were handling their money and I think that’s
since changed,” Rhinehart said.
Hayes is scheduled to next appear in court in the case in March. She is
charged with a first-degree felony, and could be facing up to 30 years in
prison if found guilty.