A former guest services employee at the Ocean Reef Club charged with stealing nearly $1 million from the tony north Key Largo gated community over a six-year period was sentenced Tuesday to three years in state prison after she pleaded guilty to grand theft of over $100,000.
Jamie Lynn Anderson, 42, stole a total of $857,393 from Ocean Reef between April 2008 and March 2014 while she was employed there as a general cashier, the position responsible for receiving all check and cash payments made to the club from its hotel and other amenities.
Asked by Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia if she had anything to say before he sentenced her, Anderson replied, “I’m sorry.”
She was also ordered to pay more than $600,000 in restitution to be paid for through judgment liens.
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Investigators with the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office said Anderson’s scheme entailed taking cash payments and substituting them with checks, which she would deposit into the company’s vault.
Anderson admitted to a private investigator hired by Ocean Reef that she stole the money under pressure from her husband, James M. Anderson, who she said used the ill-gotten proceeds to buy drugs. James Anderson committed suicide on Jan. 6, 2015.
Anderson said she would randomly select club 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 2015 arrest report.
Ocean Reef’s staff accountant never verified the legitimacy of Anderson’s deposits and recorded them as “deposits in transit’ on bank reconciliation forms, according to Bogue’s report. 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,” Bogue stated.
Anderson would deposit the exact amount stated on her falsified records into the bank during the first few days of each new month.
“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.”
Even though discrepancies were found in Ocean Reef’s accounting books in 2012, it wouldn’t be until two years later that a surprise audit uncovered a $700 cash shortage in the general cashier’s vault. Since Anderson was the sole person responsible for the vault, she was fired after the audit.
A closer look at the books by Ocean Reef’s internal audit manager uncovered a pattern of cash being removed and substituted with checks.
According to Bogue, Anderson admitted to private investigator Wayne Black that she took the money during a meeting between the two at a Homestead coffee shop on Nov. 17, 2014.
In February 2015, she told both Black and Ocean Reef's director of internal auditing, that she began stealing shortly after her daughter was born, and that she would take thousands of dollars every month.
Although she blamed her husband’s drug habit for the crime, she also reaped benefits from the flow of pilfered cash, buying things like things like drugs, cruise trips, concert tickets and a Chevy Camaro — telling investigators she did so to “maintain some normalcy.”
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204