South Florida

January trial set for woman accused in massive Ocean Reef theft

A former Ocean Reef Club staffer accused of stealing close to $1 million from the exclusive North Key Largo community is scheduled to stand trial next month.

Jamie Lynne Anderson, 39, pleaded not guilty on Nov. 10 to grand theft of more than $100,000. Her trial is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the Plantation Key Courthouse in front of Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia.

Anderson's job at the Ocean Reef Club was general cashier. She was responsible for receiving all check and cash payments made to the club from its hotel and "various outlets and amenities," according to a Sept. 17 report written by State Attorney's Office Investigator Roy Bogue.

The State Attorney's Office says that from April 2008 to March 2014, Anderson enacted a scheme wherein she would take cash payments and replace them in the vault with bogus checks.

An outside accounting agency hired by Ocean Reef to assess the degree of alleged thievery estimated Anderson took her employer for a total of $857,393.49.

She was arrested on Sept. 18. She was released the same day after posting $30,000 bond.

Bogue said in his report that she admitted stealing the money, and said she did it to finance her now-dead husband's drug habit. James M. Anderson committed suicide on Jan. 6, according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department.

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," Bogue said in his report.

Ocean Reef Club representatives are not commenting on the case.

According to Bogue's report, the club's staff accountant never verified if Anderson's deposits were legitimate and recorded them as "deposits in transit" on the bank reconciliation. Bogue added in his report that the accountant "had no knowledge of the crime."

During the first couple of days of the month, Anderson deposited 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."

Discrepancies were found with Ocean Reef's bank books in 2012, but it wasn't until March 2014 that a surprise audit uncovered a $700 cash shortage in the general cashier's vault. Ocean Reef fired Anderson as a result because she was solely responsible for the vault and its contents.

The resort community's internal audit manager then noticed 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 when the two met at a Homestead coffee shop on Nov. 17, 2014. In February, she told both Black and Lisa Runyan-VanderRhoer, Ocean Reef's director of internal auditing, that she began steeling shortly after her daughter was born, and that she would take thousands of dollars every month, according to Bogue’s report.

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