Comer Won’t Be Charged for Embezzlement?

This Glenmore embezzling story has taken an interesting twist: Glenmore isn’t interested in pressing charges against Michael Comer, Brian McNeill writes for the Daily Progress.

The Glenmore Community Association (GCA)—of which Comer was treasurer—is the one that’s short $666k. Comer was writing checks to Glenmore Associates (which owns Glenmore, but is separate from the GCA, which is the homeowners’ association), for which he also worked, and then recording those checks as income to Glenmore Associates. But he never deposited those Glenmore Associates checks, but instead has been pocketing the money for the past four years. The GCA describes those checks as “unauthorized,” saying that Comer kept any mention of these checks off of the books. Also, payments that were supposed to be coming into GCA from Glenmore Associates were being pocketed by Comer, so he was getting the money coming and going.

Here’s where things get weird. Glenmore Associates’ Jeff Gaffney—who is also Comer’s brother-in-law and the CEO of Real Estate III—said that “the company would pay full restitution to the Glenmore Community Association,” and that they’re “committed to making [GCA] whole.” Which doesn’t make much sense, because “making them whole” would mean compensating both for money that Comer pocketed on its way to GCA from Glenmore Associates—which is sensible, since there’s an argument to be made that Comer failed to make those payments as an agent of Glenmore Associates—and for money that Comer stole by writing checks to Glenmore Associates. The fact that Comer happened to make those checks out to Glenmore Associates really has nothing to do with Glenmore Associates. They’ve got no obligation to make GCA whole. If I were a stockholder of Glenmore Associates, I’d be pretty upset about that.

McNeill writes that the GCA “is not pushing for a criminal investigation,” but that they “simply want their money back.” If Glenmore Associates is pressing charges for the money Comer has stolen from them, McNeill doesn’t mention it. Maybe Glenmore Associates wants this all to go away, and the easiest way to do it is to pay off GCA—which presumably has hundreds of members—and eat the difference. But that leaves a criminal—one who has abused the trust of his friends, neighbors, and coworkers to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars—walking away scot-free, not even a wanted man, having learned that crime pays. If that’s the outcome here, then Glenmore should be ashamed for failing utterly in their duty to society.

07/22 Update: Pressing charges or no, Tasha Kates writes in the Progress that the Albemarle PD and the FBI are jointly investigating the case. Kates also reports that Comer doesn’t actually live in Glenmore, that Glenmore Associates is justifying their payment to GCA as avoiding “a devaluation of Glenmore property values,” and that Comer has been GCA’s treasurer for 15 years. I wonder to what extent Glenmore is cooperating with the investigation, given their stated opposition to bringing Comer to justice. There are lots of other interesting bits, so give this a read.

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