Former deputy accused of stealing thousands from HOA


Article Courtesy of Channel 10 News Tampa

By Kristin Weber

Published June 4, 2012

Sarasota, Florida -- A former Sarasota sheriff's deputy and Bradenton police officer was arrested for defrauding homeowners and stealing funds while volunteering as treasurer for his HOA.

Detectives say John J. Lanza, Jr., of Polk County, used over $16,000 of the funds from the Sunset Vista Neighborhood Homeowners Association (HOA) account for his own personal use.

The investigation revealed Lanza was elected to the HOA treasurer position in February 2011. On March 25 of this year, he transferred the funds from the HOA account into a personal SunTrust account. He then issued himself a debit card that included "Sunset Vista Homeowners Association" written underneath his name.

Investigators say Lanza used over $6,000 on the debit card for personal use. He also wrote 

checks to himself, to his mobile marine business and to people who have no affiliation with the HOA for over $10,000.

During an interview with detectives, Lanza admitted to taking the money because he "fell on hard times". He said he used the money for small purchases and didn't realize how much he had taken. He told authorities he intended to pay it back but was not able to and was not sure exactly how much he had taken.

Throughout 2011, Lanza wrote checks from his other personal accounts to the HOA for a total of $1,800 in an attempt to pay back his debt.

He has been charged with illegal use of credit cards to obtain goods, scheme to defraud, grand theft and making false entries on the books.

Lanza currently works as an insurance claims adjuster for AAA insurance.

He was with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office from March 1992 until July 1993. He then worked with the Bradenton Police Department from January  1993 until December 1993.

The Sarasota-Herald Tribune featured Lanza in an article examining on how Florida police officers can stay on the job despite multiple complaints, crimes.