PANAMA CITY BEACH — Officials at the Panama City Beach sports complex say they fired the recently arrested chief financial officer after he allegedly embezzled $37,000.
Darren Landry, a 51-year-old Walton County resident, has been charged with grand larceny and an ongoing scheme of fraud, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
“Through our process and reporting, we have noticed some irregularities in financial reporting,” said Resort CEO Jason Clement. “We investigated and determined that funds were missing.”
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Finding evidence of theft, officials from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the resort’s management company, filed a report with the sheriff’s office. A BCSO investigation found Landry embezzled $37,000 over the past year, the BCSO reported.
As part of his daily work, Landry was not only in charge of the revenue collected by the complex, but also had access to all funds and accounting documents.
Investigators said they believe he changed the amount of money taken from the resort’s accounting records to hide the amount of money he was stealing.
Landry was arrested on warrants with the help of the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. He was incarcerated in the Walton County Jail and will be extradited to Bay County for his first court appearance.
“The good news is that the system, the review process detected the irregularities and the discrepancies,” Clément said. “This is a public complex that the taxpayers have ultimately paid for and when you are the custodian of anybody’s money – but certainly the public’s money – the public’s trust is one thing. critically important.”
Clement noted Wednesday that his group had already filled Landry’s position. He then declined to disclose the name of the new chief financial officer.
Clement also said the embezzled money had been replaced and the situation did not impede any service at the resort.
“We have planned a full 2022 (and) it will be the best year yet at the park,” he said. “We have even more campaigns and initiatives underway so we’re really excited about the future.
“We just have to make sure that…we put the right systems in place to make sure this never happens again.”