Article Courtesy of The Palm
Isger and Cynthia Roldan
December 11, 2010
— For four years, she fooled her clients as she lived a lavish, Palm
Among other things, 51-year-old Grace Cromwell took
trips to Las Vegas, bought fine jewelry from Cartier and shopped
frequently at Chanel, Gucci and Neiman Marcus. All care of more than $2
million she allegedly stole from two properties she managed, according to
Palm Beach police.
|After 12 years of
managing Park Place on South Lake Drive and Melbourne
House on Australian Avenue, Cromwell's 4 1/2-year spending
spree left Park Place in foreclosure and both properties
in "financial distress," the arrest reports
Palm Beach police arrested Cromwell
Thursday morning on charges ranging from organized scheme
to defraud to aggravated white collar crime and making
false entries in books.
Park Place Homeowners Association
manager John Nyheim said Cromwell "pulled a fast
one" on elderly board members. He added that all of
the expenses required his signature, yet he had no
knowledge of them.
A foreclosure notice for a loan they
thought had been paid off led Park Place board members to
hire accountant Steven Corso - whom Cromwell had fired six
years prior without notifying the board - to look at the
discovering the "fraudulent activity," the report says an
attorney and Corso alerted Palm Beach police on Oct. 11.
Police checked with the Florida Department of
Business and Professional Regulation and found that Cromwell's community
association manager's licence - required for managers who handle budgets
exceeding $100,000 or more than 10 units - had expired in September 2002.
A subsequent investigation showed that Cromwell had
been writing checks payable to "cash" and herself and multiple
checks written from Melbourne House to Park Place and vice versa, the
She would then deposit the money into one of four
personal bank accounts.
Police also found checks written to an American
Express business account that she had opened without the knowledge of Park
Place's board members.
In addition to financing high-end purchases,
Cromwell allegedly used the stolen money to pay for groceries, doctor,
dentist and veterinarian bills and gas, police allege. She also wrote
checks to her husband, Stephen, and mother, Drina Parkey .
According to police, Cromwell had been using the
signatures of two elderly Park Place board members who trusted her. The
police report says one has impaired eyesight. The other has a fragmented
memory. Neither questioned Cromwell's actions. One them even described her
to police as a "pal."
Nyheim, the Park Place manager, told police that,
for years, Cromwell led the board to believe that Corso was still employed
by Park Place and conducting annual audits.
When the board rehired Corso to investigate the
condo's finances, he discovered that Park Place also owed the Internal
Revenue Service nearly $300,000 in payroll taxes, according to the report.
Police spokeswoman Jennifer Recarey said the
investigation into the suspected fraud by Cromwell is continuing.