Crime

Accomplices may have been involved in massive Ocean Reef theft

One former Ocean Reef Club woman was arrested on accusations she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the posh community and resort.
One former Ocean Reef Club woman was arrested on accusations she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the posh community and resort.

The woman who the State Attorney's Office says stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the exclusive Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo may have had accomplices or an accomplice, according to a well-placed source in the community.

Monroe County State Attorney's Office investigators last weekend arrested Jamie Lynne Anderson, 39, who admitted to the theft, according to an arrest warrant. She said she siphoned the cash mainly to finance her husband's drug habit. Ocean Reef Club internal and external auditors say close to $1 million was taken.

But according to the source who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity, Ocean Reef management believes others may have been involved.

"They're treading very gently to find out," the source said, adding that staffers in the resort’s accounting department "are fearful for their jobs."

Ocean Reef Club representatives would not comment on the case.

"With respect to the ongoing investigation, the club does not have any additional information to provide at this time," Molly Carroll, Ocean Reef's director of communications, said in an e-mail.

Anderson was a general cashier at the gated community, where she was responsible for receiving all check and cash payments made to Ocean Reef from its hotel and "various outlets and amenities."

The State Attorney's Office arrested Anderson on last Saturday on a charge of grand theft of over $100,000.

Between April 2008 and March 2014, investigators say Anderson enacted a scheme where she would take cash payments and substitute them with checks.

Anderson said she would randomly select club member check payments and deposit them in place of cash received for toll tickets, food coupons and outlet cash receipts deposited in the front desk safe.

She would make copies of the member checks and keep the copies in her desk until she had another check to cover the first one. Any checks that were left over at the end of the month "became part of a falsified deposit for accounting purposes, which was posted to the general ledger by Anderson," State Attorney's Office Investigator Roy Bogue wrote in his Sept. 17 report.

Bogue said the staff accountant did not verify that the deposit was legitimate and recorded the falsified deposit as a deposit in transit on the bank reconciliation. Bogue added that the staff accountant "had no knowledge of the crime."

In the first couple of days of the following month, Anderson would deposit the exact amount of her falsified deposits into the bank.

“By doing so, the accounting was ‘clean’ each month and no attention was drawn to the theft,” Bogue wrote. “At which point, she then repeated the process, and did so for several years.” 

An outside accounting firm hired by Ocean Reef to assess the damage caused by the theft estimated Anderson took her former employee for a total of $857,393.49.

Although Anderson blamed her husband for forcing her to rip off her employer, she told investigators that she, too, benefited from the stolen money -- buying things like drugs, cruise trips, concert tickets and a Chevy Camaro. The alleged theft was done so she could "maintain some normalcy," she reportedly told investigators.

Jamie Lynn Anderson's husband, James M. Anderson, 40, committed suicide on Jan. 6, according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department.

In 2012, discrepancies with the resort community's bank books were discovered. But it wasn't until March 2014 that a surprise audit of the general cashier's vault revealed a $700 cash shortage. Anderson denied responsibility, but Ocean Reef fired her because she was solely responsible for the vault and its contents.

After Ocean Reef let Anderson go, an internal audit manager noticed a pattern of cash being removed and substituted with checks.

Ocean Reef hired private investigator Wayne Black of Wayne Black and Associates, who met with Anderson at a coffee shop in Homestead on Nov. 17 last year. Black said Anderson admitted to taking the money. According to the warrant, Anderson wrote an apology note to her former boss at Ocean Reef, Ford Franklin.

Anderson provided Black bank statements that he said showed deposits into her account in consistent amounts that were missing from Ocean Reef accounts.

In February, Anderson met with Black and Lisa Runyan-VanderRhoer, Ocean Reef's director of internal auditing. She told both Black and Runyan-VanderRhoer that she began stealing shortly after her daughter was born. She said she would steal thousands of dollars every month.

In her apology letter to Franklin, Anderson again blamed her husband’s drug addiction for her alleged crimes.

"Later in the letter, she stated that on the verge to find money for him, she did many things wrong," Bogue wrote. "She replaced checks for cash and she knew that was wrong."

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