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.

37 thoughts on “Comer Won’t Be Charged for Embezzlement?”

  1. One of the Progress articles says that Glenmore might be worried about devaluation of their property resulting from litigation (and presumably the resultant negative publicity).

    I would think quite the opposite: if they are willing to “bury” a 600K loss, why would I trust them to manage the association transparently? They should press charges and hold Comer’s feet to the fire.


  2. Glenmorons not pressing charges against Comer?

    Will the Glenmorons not on the GCA Board go after the Glenmorons who sat on the GCA Board for the past four/five years while this happened?

    2005 GCA Board: Dick Wagaman, Mike Phillips, Shelley Payne, Tom Grzymala, Bob Savino, Allyson Louthan, Mike Comer

    2006 GCA Board: Dick Wagaman, Scott Jolly, Betsy Gohdes-Baten; Pat Parkhill; Allyson Louthan, Mike Comer

    2007 GCA Board; Dennis Odinov; Carl Huebner, Betsy Gohdes-Baten; Jay McClellan; Vin Cibbarelli, Allyson Louthan, Mike Comer

    2008 GCA Board: Trevor Joscelyne. Jerry O’Brien, John Heilman, W. A. Pace, Jean ZBailey, Jim O’Kelley, Allyson Louthan, Mike Comer

    2009 GCA Board: Trevor Joscelyn, Betsy Gohdes-Baten, W. A. Pace, John Echols, Chris Grant, Allyson Louthan, Mike Comer

  3. I don’t see how this is a failure to society. I think society could give a fat rats a.. Put the money back in the kitty and forget it. After all money is the root of all evil/greed.

  4. I can’t see why you find it weird that the Kessler/Comer/Gaffney family as individuals or under the umbrella of Glenmore Associates would attempt to restore all the missing funds, including those “that Comer stole by writing checks to Glenmore Associates”. Mike Comer is a member of the clan, married to Jeff’s sister in law and Mike was the public face of Glenmore Associates, a family enterprise.

    Surely it is the ethical thing to do for the family to attempt to reimburse GCA for his theft: while they have no legal “obligation to make GCA whole”, they may feel a moral obligation to do so. Viewing the same action as a cynic: it is the most self-protective route for the family to take. I know Jeff Gaffney to be a very devoted, forthright and ethical businessman and family man and I believe he would do both: what he felt appropriate to make full restitution to his neighbors and what he felt best to protect his family from further scrutiny and/or damage to their name.

    Whether or not to prosecute is down the GCA and the authorities. The Kessler family is doing what they can to make amends in a difficult time.

  5. This is all very fishy. Sounds like the Kessler/Comer/Gaffney Klan have sent a scout out for New World Territory to conquer and deceive.

  6. Comer’s kicking back listening to the Steve Miller Band right now — “whoa.. take the money and run… woo-hoo! … whoa… take the money and run!”

    I’m still not convinced they don’t know where he is – there was zero coverage on this story between the time of his missing and now.

    If they pay it off, I agree: shame on Glenmore. Everyone’s following this story, including lots of young adults in town, who are learning by example.

  7. I can’t see why you find it weird that the Kessler/Comer/Gaffney family as individuals or under the umbrella of Glenmore Associates would attempt to restore all the missing funds, including those “that Comer stole by writing checks to Glenmore Associates”. Mike Comer is a member of the clan, married to Jeff’s sister in law and Mike was the public face of Glenmore Associates, a family enterprise.

    A corporation and its officers is legally obliged to maximize profit for shareholders. Making an enormous payment unnecessarily does not do that. The fact that a business is family-owned does not permit that business to simply give money away to assist criminal family members for the heck of it. (Last night I watched a few episodes of “Arrested Development” on DVD; this concept is the very premise of the show, to hilarious effect.) Also, I have no idea who the shareholders of Glenmore are. Unless it’s 100% this family, I’d think some of those other shareholders should be pretty upset.

  8. Don’t worry. I have a feeling the IRS and the FBI will be after him if they can find him.

  9. Comer is still a scumbag even if they don’t press charges.
    Imagine if/when he did come back now.
    He would look even worse. “oh your not pressing charges, OK, I’ll come back to my family now who hasn’t from me for about a month”.
    I nominate him for C-ville douche of the year.

  10. This isn’t too surprising, considering they have the means to buy their way out of most sticky situations. Your average criminal would have a harder time. If it had been the accountant, or a club manager, he/she would have been thrown to the wolves.

    Hasn’t the Albermarle PD also launched a criminal investigation? Even if Glenmore doesn’t press charges, doesn’t the APD still have to move forward with the investigation, despite the clan’s wishes? Would love to be a fly on the wall to see what sort of pressure they are putting on the APD and Commonwealth’s Attorney.

    Having spent some time working and recreating in Glenmore myself over the years, I found the incestuousness (societal, not sexual) there really creepy. There’s the clan itself, then the community in general existing in a bubble. When you’re locked in there, you have no tangible sense of where you are as pertains to greater Charlottesville/Albemarle.

    Waldo, good call on Arrested Development. It’s the Bluth family! The APD should look for Comer in the attic. Or in Iraq.

  11. Voice, you have accurately described the situation at Glenmore.

    The “Clan” controls everything. They herd the sheep around to suit them. Most of the sheep are willing to be treated like !@#$%^. I don’t understand why that is. Probably a group case of denial. Sort of like how the holocast happened I guess.

    As for not prosecuting — what is that all about? The guy STOLE from Glenmore homeowners.

    How about prosecuting the GCA Board Members for abject stupidity? ROTFLMAO

  12. What’s the chance that Mike Comer went to his brother-in-law and admitted what he had done, and his brother-in-law is thinking of using the recovered money to pay off the debt?

  13. Why has no reporter asked this question of anyone in law enforcement (or reported a refusal to answer):

    Has there been any activity on Comer’s debit card, credit card, checking, savings, gas, cell phone, or any other easily tracked account since his ‘disappearance’?

  14. It’s a crime to commit tax fraud. That is assuming Comer did not pay taxes on his ill gotten gains. Anyone with knowledge of this crime, should file an IRS Form 3949-A and report this suspected tax fraud.

  15. why has a reward not been posted by the family for info leading to his return,etc? wouldn’t most well heeled families be doing that?

  16. Ask you self this, is he more likely to turn himself in if he thinks he is not going to be arrested? Sorry to spoil it…He is going to get arrested they are just saying this in an effort to get him to come in.

  17. “Probably a group case of denial. Sort of like how the holocast happened I guess.” Hey Betty which “group” would you be refering too?

    Your comment acusing them all of abjecting stupiditiy is right on the mark.

  18. Can someone explain why the search for this guy was suddenly called off at Wintergreen after the first 48 hours? Someone called someone and told them to back off- the presumption being that they knew where he was…or, at the very least, they knew he wouldn’t be found in the weeds somewhere. Why has no reporter in town asked this question?

  19. Audit report available on-line.

    “The Board of Directors’ failure to perform
    adequate review and oversight of the financial activities resulted in substantial omissions and
    errors in the financial reporting process for the periods audited, and may have allowed
    fraudulent financial activities to go unnoticed.

    “FAILURE TO PERFORM” sounds like a basis for further legal action

  20. As for reporters… it is one thing to ask a question and quite another to get it answered, especially with “ongoing investigations.”

    Not an excuse, just a bit of perspective, from inside a newsroom.

  21. Comer’s house on Milton Lane is for sale for $1,348,000. They bought it in October 2005 for $1,030,000 before they closed on the sale of their Glenmore home for $665,000 in November 2005.

    As for DP reporters asking the tough questions, Real Estate III and other Kessler-related activities have a lot of influence at the Daily Regress. BTW, the DP publisher lives in Glenmore.

    Maybe Lisa Provence at the Hook will jump on this eventually.

  22. The only difference between Glenmore and Lake Monticello is about fifteen miles.

    Glenmore is for rich white trash and always will be. Most of them are second and third generation immigrant scum from Italy and Ireland. Not a FFV to be found out there.

  23. From today’s Progress:

    If criminal charges were filed, investigators would have more ability to “start prying into [Comer’s] background and involve all of the agencies they would like in case he . . . left the country,” [Nelson County Sheriff David] Brooks said.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, the fact that the FBI has started a criminal investigation doesn’t mean that Glenmore’s refusal to press charges isn’t a hinderance. It sounds like Comer is being allowed to get away, and his trail get cold, because no charges have yet been filed.

  24. I worked at the Progress a few years ago. Never once was it suggested that any of the paper’s advertising ties, or the fact that the publisher resided in Glenmore, should influence my coverage or the questions I asked of sources. None of the other reporters ever indicated that they felt this pressure either. But when you combine overworked journalists fresh out of school with law enforcement officials who won’t answer questions or return phone calls and editors who are concerned about libel suits, you don’t get very many questions answered.

  25. Can someone explain why the search for this guy was suddenly called off at Wintergreen after the first 48 hours?

    I just double-checked some of the early news stories, and they all mentioned that search and rescue dogs were being used. My guess is that the dogs picked up no trace of Comer on the trails whatsoever, making it increasingly probable that he had staged a missing-hiker disappearance while making his way down the mountain some other way. (And that’s the interesting part. If he had an accomplice, easily explained. If not, what were his options? He left his own car at his house. Hitch a ride? Rent another vehicle? Both of those tactics would have been quickly discoverable. This armchair detective can’t see it happening without a second person involved.)

  26. My impression, from the initial reports of the search at Wintergreen being called off, was that information relayed to the Nelson police led them to believe the missing person was “intentionally” missing. What I’d like to know is what was that information and who was the source. If tracking dogs failed to pick up a trail that doesn’t rule out lots of other explanations. Still, the police just dropped everything. I suspect there’s a lot more to this than we’ve been told – obviously- so where are the “unnamed sources”… it’s a small town…how about it Glenmore residents. What’s the word in the neighborhood??

  27. Say what? They aren’t going to to talk. They’re afraid of being banned at the Club or maybe being asked to move.

    Wonder how Tony Bennett and his family like their new digs in Glenmore??????? Just another bunch of Glenmorons!

  28. Tony Bennett? Glenmore? WTF?

    Has he run out of money like Ed McMahon did???

  29. I can’t find any record that the new UVA basketball coach has bought in the land of Groh (aka Glenmore) yet. His top assistant has purchased a home there. Must be nice when an assistant coach can afford to pay over 600K for a home.

  30. $600,000 is not all that much for a home nowadays. What we once called “starter homes” are $250,000 to $350,000 now.

  31. the house in glenmore that someone with UVA B’ball bought, closed/recorded for 950K on 7/13/09

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