Former Longboat Key condo manager ordered to begin serving 3 years in prison for stealing more than $200,000 [7-14-15]

Article Courtesy of The Bradenton Herald

By Jessica De Leon

Published July 11, 2015

MANATEE — The former manager of a Longboat Key condo association, convicted in 2013 of stealing more than $200,000 of Sand Cay Homeowners Association funds, was ordered Tuesday to begin serving a three-year prison sentence.

Judy Paul, 51, was convicted in July 2013 on felony counts of grand theft in excess of $100,000 and scheming to defraud more than $50,000.

In September 2013, Paul was sentenced to three years prison followed by 10 years probation, and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the Sand Cay Homeowners Association. She was allowed to remain out of jail pending appeal.

On June 3, the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed Paul’s conviction.

Paul was scheduled to surrender at a court hearing July 1, but she failed to appear and later claimed she had attempted suicide. When she didn’t show, Circuit Judge Susan Maulucci ordered a warrant for Paul’s arrest.

Paul appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded with Maulucci for mercy, claiming several medical conditions needed treatment. Paul claimed medical issues including uncontrollable bowels, post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the case, a failing colon, alleged mistreatment at the Manatee County jail and back surgery.

Judy Paul, convicted of stealing more than $200,000 from the Sand Cay Homeowners Association on Longboat Key, reads a statement before sentencing Friday at the Manatee County Courthouse. Paul was sentenced to 3 years in prison, 10 years probation and must repay $200,000.

Paul also said she attempted to end her life two days before she was originally scheduled to surrender.

Paul and defense attorney David Ehlers claimed a motion for a federal stay of sentence had been filed on her behalf. Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro said she could not find any such federal court filing and federal courts had no jurisdiction in the case.

Ehlers offered to show Paul’s medical records to Maulucci.

“It’s all hearsay, and I’m really not inclined to do that,” Maulucci said. “I don’t see that I have any other option but to invoke the sentence at this point and time.”

Paul began to sob loudly.

Maulucci read Paul’s sentence into the record again and ordered her housed in the medical unit at the Manatee County jail until taken to prison.

“That’s where they hurt me, your honor,” Paul shrieked amid her sobs.

Maulucci added jail officials should review her medical records, which should go with her to prison.

“I hope you are all happy,” Paul said through sobs as she walked out with her cane after being fingerprinted.

Paul’s case was the first brought to trial by the State Attorney’s Office’s newly formed White Collar Crime Division in 2013.

“In 2013, a jury delivered a just verdict in this case for the financial misconduct the defendant committed while in a position of trust as the manager of Sandy Kay condominiums,” Chittaro said after the hearing. “I’m pleased the second DCA affirmed the defendant’s conviction and sentence and that today the defendant begins to serve her prison sentence for the crime she was found guilty of.”

Paul’s fraud was discovered when a routine 2009 audit uncovered more than 50 checks she issued and cashed or deposited into her own accounts. Evidence revealed she also purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with association money.

Sand Cay Condominiums Beach Resort, 4725 Gulf of Mexico Drive, is made up of 60 individually owned units also available as vacation rentals on a weekly or monthly basis. Owners were forced to repay the loss through assessments.