Sheriff probes claim that ex-POA head in Boca took money

Article Courtesy of Boca Raton News

By Dale M. King

Published February 14, 2007


The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an “active, open criminal investigation” of charges that the former president of the Boca Rio Townhome Association allegedly took nearly a half-million dollars or more from the association treasury before she was forced out of office.

“It is being investigated by our financial crimes unit,” PBSO spokesman Sgt. Pete Palenzuela told the Boca Raton News. He said such probes are “time-consuming and exhaustive” since all financial records must be ordered or subpoenaed.

Subject of the investigation is Betty Marshall, a 68-year-old grandmother who held the office of president for three years.  Members of the newly appointed board said they have found $450,000 missing from the treasury, and other money may also be gone.  Those totals are now being checked.

In addition, the new board at the complex on Boca Rio Road west of the city has filed a complaint with PBSO about the missing money.  Board secretary Randy Gavitt, who took office Jan. 18, said the new members created a timeline of Marshall’s activities and reported that information to members at a meeting last week.

The timeline said Marshall became president in December 2003 after the previous president stepped down amid accusations of wrongdoing brought by Marshall.

“At this time, Trident Property management was still in control of the finances until Marshall fired them under the premise of overcharging and lack of management,” the association statement says.

With her at the helm, the association board said, bills were either unpaid or paid late.  Gavitt said a $900 a month late charge was being assessed on recent insurance payments.

“Other bills were left unpaid and went to collection or as in one case, to lien,” said the association board.  “The estimated total as of now is $450,000 in monies not accounted for -- and we have yet to review the fence account” that is showing a negative balance.

Gavitt also said the association had a debit card which only Marshall could use. He said the board and the sheriff’s office are both reviewing a list of charges on that card made at the Hard Rock Casino.

“She was the only one with control of the card,” she said. “But we don’t have videotape of her using it.  It is just circumstantial.”

The newly appointed board secretary said Marshall moved out of her unit at Boca Rio Townhouses.  About a week later, he said, moving trucks came and cleaned out her furnishings.

Gavitt said residents tried to stop the movers, but were told by police not to interfere.

Some residents said they think Marshall has moved to a home she owns in Pennsylvania.