Article Courtesy of The News-Press
By Melanie Payne
Published December 13, 2016
When an anonymous caller told me Joshua C. Hall, the former
general manager at Herons Glen Golf and Country Club, was caught embezzling
money, I thought it was old news.
“Didn’t that happen a few years ago?” I asked. It turns out I was recalling
another North Fort Myers homeowners' association, Sabal Springs.
Thinking there was no way this could be happening that often,
I googled “homeowners’ association embezzlement.” Man, was I wrong. Financial
crimes at condo and homeowners’ associations are so prevalent, there are
websites dedicated to HOA fraud.
Herons Glen’s problem was discovered early in the summer and a special meeting
of the Herons Glen Recreation District was held on July 6. According to the
minutes, “some financial discrepancies were found and based on those findings,
Josh Hall decided to resign the position of General Manager…District Counsel
(Tom) Hart has a letter from Mr. Hall admitting his guilt in defrauding the
District of funds. At this time, the total amount of the fraud is not known, but
it is a significant amount.”
According to the board, Hall admitted to taking money, beginning in September
2015. He promised to pay it back by cashing in a 401(k) and selling some real
estate. Subsequent minutes stated he had made partial restitution.
Hall worked as a controller at Herons Glen for a number of years and in 2013
became general manager. I made several attempts to contact him over a few weeks.
But a phone number I found did not receive incoming calls, I couldn’t find an
email or Facebook page for him and he didn’t respond to written correspondence
sent to his home in Ave Maria.
By all accounts, Hall was well-loved in the community which was why I asked
Herons Glen homeowner Jean Winans if she was surprised by the accusations.
“Shocked would be a better word,” Winans replied. “He was such a pleasant
fellow. A lovely young man. People refused to believe it was true. ”
Josh Hall, the former general manager at Herons Glen in
North Fort Myers has been accused of embezzling funds from the
Months after the discovery the board still hadn’t made a
report to law enforcement even though the amount missing was reaching the
$200,000 range. And board members questioned if they should report it.
“Most of the community liked Josh and know he has four small children,” the
special board meeting records read. “Perhaps he should not go to jail.”
No one was questioning anything because he was such a super nice guy. But nice
guys don’t do that to their friends.
But Ken Knop, a Herons Glen homeowner, is not on board with that plan.
“My opinion is he should have been jailed. I think (the board) finally reported
it to the sheriff, but they’re still pussy-footing around,” Knop said. “I think
he should be punished.”
Most organizations that have been victims of embezzlement don’t prosecute, said
Ruth Crane, managing partner for Auditors Inc., the Maryland-based company that
owns embezzlement.com. “It’s a time drain, it’s expensive and it gets your name
in the paper. And God knows, you don’t want your name in the paper,” she said.
Another reason for the reluctance to prosecute is that the organization bears
some responsibility for the theft, Crane said. They don’t put in place the
procedures that would deter embezzlement. They make it easy for the person to
become a thief, Crane said. And then when the board members or owners suspect
something is amiss, they stick their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge
what’s going on.
“$200,000. For that to be missing someone is not paying attention,” Crane said.
There are simple things that make it difficult for embezzlers to operate, she
1.Keep a list of every check and each month compare the list of checks to those
on the bank statement.
2.Require documentation for payments, make sure invoices are attached.
3.If there are fees collected, make sure each member’s payment is tied to a
deposit in the association bank account.
Herons Glen has made some changes. The community has become “cashless” and all
transactions are made using a credit or debit card.
The board yielded to the residents’ pressure and made a report of the theft to
the Lee County Sheriff's Office. But what will happen to Hall is still up in the
According to the most recent public minutes, the total theft
is up to $184,000 but the audit is not complete and some checks and invoices
still need review.
“When the final report is received, it will be made available to all residents
and to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office,” the minutes read.
The bottom line is that this sad situation could have been avoided. And
homeowners such as Winans see that. “We were too lax and made it easy for him.
No one was questioning anything because he was such a super nice guy,” she said.
“But nice guys don’t do that to their friends.”