ST. PETERSBURG — A former property manager of Parkshore Plaza, a high-end condominium building in downtown St. Petersburg, was sentenced to two years in prison this week after authorities say she used company money to buy vacations to Disney, book personal flights to Maryland, pay for expensive trips to the salon and cover her home water bill.
Court records show Abby Elliott was found guilty on a charge of scheme to defraud and was sentenced Tuesday.
Michael Marquardt, president of the Parkshore Plaza Condominium Association, alerted police to “approximately $154,000 in misappropriated funds” charged on the association’s credit cards, according to court documents. The charges were made by Elliott and another employee of the property management company, Aaren Hayman, from February 2014 to February 2018, Marquardt said in the documents.
Elliott and Hayman worked for Associa Gulf Coast, the property management company for Parkshore Plaza, records indicate. As part of her job, Elliott was responsible for submitting expense receipts and credit card statements to the company’s accounting department, according to statements made to the police by the president of Associa Gulf Coast, Dennis Mansfield. But instead of submitting all transactions, Elliott would only send over the front page of the credit card statement, “intentionally omitting the pages which listed the individual transactions,” he said.
Elliott was then promoted and gained direct access to the condo association’s bank accounts, after which she began bypassing the accounting department and paying the credit card bills over the phone, Mansfield said.
According to court records, a St. Petersburg police detective investigated the case and confirmed more than $150,000 in personal purchases including: “luxury vacations, gasoline purchases, Sunpass tolls, dining, high end shopping, salon and spa services, hotels, airfare, theme parks, vehicle repair/maintenance, and orthodontics.”
Of those transactions, more than $34,000 was used to book 10 trips to Disney resorts for Elliott and “numerous family members,” the detective found. Additionally, she bought airfare and lodging in Maryland, thousands of dollars in dining and hotels across Florida and nearly $4,000 in purchases from Ellenton Mall near Bradenton, and paid the water bill for her family’s home in Manatee County, according to court records.
Hayman, who took over Elliott’s job after she was promoted, also used company cards to buy tickets to Disney World and more than $4,000 in prepaid Visa gift cards, according to court documents, and is participating in a pre-trial diversion program that could allow her to avoid a felony conviction.
Marquardt, the condo association president, said in an email that he attended Tuesday’s sentencing hearing and he supported the judge’s decision. He added that Parkshore Plaza switched to a new property management company in 2018 for reasons unrelated to this case.
“While Parkshore Plaza was made whole financially by Associa Gulf Coast, which employed Ms. Elliott, her actions were a serious breach of trust that warranted the criminal punishment the judge handed down,” he said.
Lawyers representing Elliott and Hayman did not respond to requests for comment.