Developer accused of stealing residents' utility payments

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Mary Shanklin

Published March 15, 2013


Longtime developer David Meadows and his wife were arrested at their Heathrow estate Wednesday, accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars in utility payments made by residents of two of his developments.

Meadows began developing the Bimini Bay vacation resort near Walt Disney World starting in 2000, marketing about 200 town homes to buyers around the world. As detailed in a December 2011 report in the Orlando Sentinel, Bimini Bay was rife with problems a decade later, including the condemnation of the clubhouse, pervasive community-association fines, and safety violations such as an illegal dumping area.


"David Meadows did engage in an ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud a number of Polk County residents, two utility companies and the Polk County Board of County Commissioners Utilities Division of monies generated from the sales of water and wastewater services," the arrest affidavit states.
Meadows had contracted with Polk County to supply water and sewer service for residents of Bimini
Bay and a sister community. Following an 18-month investigation by the Florida Public Service Commission, he notified Polk County that he would abandon his control of Bimini Bay Utilities and Four Points Utilities in January 2012.
But he continued collecting utility payments from residents through April and owes the county $121,624 for months of water and sewer service, according to the arrest affidavit.
An audit of utility records showed Meadows collected at least $34,387 from residents of Bimini Bay and the sister community, Island Club West, said Steve Menge, an investigator with the State Attorney's Office in Polk County.

Booking mug of Davis Meadows, former developer of Bimini Bay. He is charged with grand theft and three counts of money laundering.


After the courts appointed a receiver to operate the utilities, Meadows withdrew an additional $7,500 from the utility accounts and deposited the money into Meadows Development, Menge said.
He also was arrested last year on embezzlement, grand-theft and money-laundering charges related to Bimini Bay. Despite the arrests, Meadows has maintained his position as president of the homeowners association. On Wednesday, a group of residents from the community was attempting to call an emergency meeting to wrest control of the association from him.
The Meadowses were arrested early Wednesday by Seminole County deputies at the couple's home in the exclusive Heathrow community. No bond was set for Meadows, who was charged with money laundering and three counts of grand theft. He is expected to be transported to the Polk County Jail in Bartow.
His wife, Linda Meadows, was charged with money laundering, scheming to defraud and grand theft; she was released on bail.
During an 18-month period that began in March 2010, Linda Meadows transferred $75,690 from the accounts of homeowners associations controlled by her husband, according to the arrest affidavit. More than $62,000 of that money was used to pay Bank United for the couple's personal mortgage, it stated.
Menge said the cases could take months to make it into the courts.



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