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Longboat Key Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 4 years ago

UPDATE: Former Sand Cay manager guilty of grand theft, fraud

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor
A jury spent less than two hours deliberating July 18 before convicting former Sand Cay Manager Judy Paul of grand theft of more than $100,000 and of scheming to defraud in the amount of $50,000 or more.

Paul, 49, was taken into custody after the verdict and remains in the Manatee County Jail awaiting sentencing.

Paul was fired from Sand Cay in 2010, after an audit revealed inconsistencies.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Paul was hired in June 2006 by Sand Cay with a salary of more than $70,000 and stole more than $216,000 in business checks between July 2006 and September 2009.

The report states that Paul’s duties rapidly expanded when the condominium undertook a renovation project that resulted in unrelated civil action against the original contractor.

According to the affidavit: “She eagerly assumed total control of all office tasks while the board became embroiled in the renovation issues. She quickly gained the trust of the board members/owners for her willingness to take on extra work during a time of extreme stress. This enabled her to work without any supervision of her daily duties.”

“We trusted her, but, like the old saying goes, trust but verify,” said Bob Fisher, the Sand Cay board member who filed the original report with Longboat Key police in 2010. “We didn’t adequately do our verification. We were shocked because we all trusted Judy. I think I can speak for all the owners that we felt betrayed.”

Paul cashed or deposited more than 50 unauthorized Sand Cay checks, funneling most of the funds into personal accounts, and recorded the checks that were made payable to her differently in the QuickBooks system, according to reports.

One check for $12,847.20 went to Manatee River Harley-Davidson, according to court records.

Paul was arrested on both charges in April 2012 and remained free in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Paul, who testified on her own behalf at her trial, told police during the investigation that she had a verbal agreement with then Sand Cay Treasurer Joseph DiMario that was known only to the two of them and that she regularly had to pay Sand Cay expenses with personal funds and then reimburse herself, claims which police said records did not support.

In an email to the Longboat Observer in August, Paul maintained her innocence.

“My case will soon be overturned and all actions dismissed based on their long time very bad actions and blaming them on people who tried to make a difference at Sand Cay,” she wrote.

The Longboat Observer was unable to reach Paul’s attorney, Lee Blais, for comment.

At press time, a sentencing hearing for Paul had not been set.

Fisher said he was pleased with the verdict and praised Longboat Key Police Capt. Kristina Roberts for doing “an absolute superb job with the investigation.”

Fisher, who testified during the trial, said he will most likely attend the sentencing but declined to comment about what punishment he believes would be suitable.

“We trust the judge will be fair and appropriate,” he said.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].

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