Condo president charged with grand theft tried to repay money, police say [7-14-15]
Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
By Lisa J. Huriash
Published July 8, 2015
A Hollywood woman was arrested for allegedly stealing money from her boss for her own profit and that of her condo association..
Police said Theresa Brunetto, 70, was taking money from a trade organization where she worked as treasurer to pay her own bills, nearly $50,000, as well as those of the Hollywood condo association where she still serves as president. The Ocean Grande Beach Club received just over $11,000, according to her arrest report.
But Brunetto said her intentions were honorable, and she was desperate to save a collapsing business. She said she never intended to steal, that she has lived an honorable life, and was working on paying the cash back out of her $2,000 monthly social security checks.
“To this to me is just awful,” she said. “I can’t tell you how sick I am over this whole thing. My whole life is ruined. I made one stupid mistake. Just one.”
Brunetto is accused of trying to pay back the trade group, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management “so that AAHAM wouldn’t find out what she was doing,” according to her arrest report. “At no time did she have permission to do this.”
Brunetto was booked into jail Sunday morning and was released on a bond of $5,000 later that evening.She is being charged with grand theft.
Investigators said from 2009 through 2014 Brunetto worked as the treasurer for the AAHAM. Her scheme came to light, police said, when the South Florida chapter and the central and north state chapter began to merge and combine funds. However, there was no money in the South Florida chapter’s account.
“They merged and the gig was up,” she said. The money she took was “not money being used, it was sitting there. [Still], it wasn’t right, I’m not proud if it.”
Police said Theresa Brunetto, 70, was taking money from a trade organization where she worked as the treasurer to pay her own bills, nearly $50,000, as well as the Hollywood condo association where she still serves as president. The Ocean Grande Beach Club received just over $11,000, according to her arrest report.
Brunetto was fired — she said it was a volunteer position — and AAHAM attorneys drafted a promissory note which she signed. But after half a dozen payments, “she didn’t maintain the schedule she stated that she would,” according to the police report.
With a debt of still $41,322.98, the AAHAM turned the case over to police. Brunetto, reached at home Monday, disputes that figure and said the remaining debt is $39,543.98 — and she intended to return all of it. She said the condo association paid back all of its $10,000, plus $1,000 interest and she paid back $10,200.
The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management is a national association for people who deal with revenue in healthcare such as billing managers or patient collections offices. The group offers networking as well as certification permits.
The state chapter’s president declined comment.
Brunetto said the Ocean Grande didn’t have money to pay its property taxes because unit owners hadn’t paid on time.
“I arranged a loan from AAHAM to Ocean Grande, though nobody knew about it,” she said. “They did pay it back. It was a temporary loan with $1,000 interest. That’s a nice interest don’t you think?”
Brunetto said she needed money to keep afloat a company, which she started in 1973, that represented doctors and patients and pursued insurance firms that failed to pay claims. The company, which she declined to name, has since closed.
“We were the good guys,” she said. The money she took paid to keep the company’s lights and phones on, and pay for an employee’s health insurance.
“I dumped all my money in my company trying to save it,” she said.
The police investigator wrote in the report that Brunetto “was upset [AAHAM wasn’t] giving her more time to pay the funds back.”
On Sunday she spent 12 hours in jail. “Not a cockroach deserves to go to a place like that,” she said. “Do I feel bad? Absolutely. I never meant for it to reach to this.”