Video Courtesy of NBC-2,
Courtesy of Naples News
November 2, 2010
— They called the transactions "shareholder loans."
three years, Charles Bennett III and Kenneth Marwick moved hundreds of
thousands of dollars in condominium association fees into and out of
multiple bank accounts they controlled and used for personal expenses,
according to an affidavit.
call the transactions embezzlement, and they say the men
stole $291,500 from the Lovers Key Beach Club & Resort
Condominium Association between July 2005 and October
2008, much of it ending up in Bennett's personal bank
account. Friday, both men were arrested on charges of
first degree grand theft, a felony punishable by a maximum
30 years in prison.
61, of Naples, remains in Lee County custody. Marwick, 64,
of Bonita Springs, was released Friday on $30,000 bond.
the affidavit, filed after the arrests, State Attorney's Office
investigators trace 18 transactions made by the men during the three
years, in amounts ranging from $2,500 to $40,000. Each alleged transaction
involved multiple bank accounts under different business names, all of
which are alleged to be controlled by Bennett or both of the men.
of the money originated from two primary accounts for the
association, an operating account and a reserve account,
according to the affidavit. Both accounts are fed by
association fees paid by condo owners.
accounts came under Bennett's control through a company he
owned called EID Management & Realty. In 2000, the
association named EID Management & Realty as property
manager for the high-rise. Marwick became president of the
company in 2007.
the same period, the men operated a separate venture known as EID
Management LLC, which was intended to collect money from rented
condominiums, a portion of which would then be forwarded to condo owners,
according to the affidavit.
say Bennett and Marwick instead funneled money from the operating and
reserve accounts into the LLC and other companies controlled by the two
men, all of them unrelated to association activities. A third association
account, a money market, was also used in several of the transactions,
according to the investigation.
money was moved via online transfers and by checks written
from one account to another, the affidavit holds.
February 17, 2006, for example, investigators say $10,000
was transferred from the reserve account to the operating
account. Four days later, someone cut a $12,150 check from
the operating account to an account controlled by Equity
IV Investments & Development, a business created and
controlled by Bennett. The following day, $15,000 was
transferred from the Equity IV
to a personal account owned by Charles
the affidavit states.
named seven different companies created or controlled by Bennett that were
used in the alleged embezzlement. More than $350,000 was moved through the
companies, the affidavit states. Investigators say $88,000 was deposited
into Bennett's personal bank account.
bookkeeper for Bennett, Marcia Jacquith, told investigators in September
that the men referred to the money as "shareholder loans."
Jacquith said that at Bennett's direction she cut checks from the EID
Management LLC account to pay for Bennett's personal credit cards and car
said the men tried to cover their tracks by moving money into the
operating and reserve accounts prior to association board meetings. She
said Bennett once borrowed money from his brother to make the accounts
whole before a meeting, only to remove the money days later.
told investigators that Marwick created bogus statements on behalf of EID
Management LLC to condo owners. The statements accurately reflected what
each owner was owed from rentals, Jacquith said, but it lied about total
funds in the LLC's account.
declined to speak with investigators unless he was offered immunity, a
deal investigators rejected, according to the affidavit. It's unclear if
Bennett spoke with investigators.
Attorney's Office investigators Kevin Smith and Charles Battaglia handled
affidavit lists 80 condominium owners, most of them couples and businesses
outside of Southwest Florida.
first became aware of the transactions when current association president
Michael McEvoy approached the Sheriff's Office in April. Warrants for both
men were released on Wednesday.
faces other troubles related to the Beach Club & Resort Condominium.
In September, a Lee Circuit judge ordered him to pay $1.06 million to
jilted investors in a failed boat club he and Marwick tried to establish
at the property. Five investors claimed fraud in the complaint, but the
judge awarded money only on breach of contract allegations.