PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) - The former president of a South Florida condominium association is facing felony charges of grand theft.
Pembroke Pines Police say Nancy Marquez, 58, stole nearly $150-thousand dollars while she was president of the French Villas Condo Association from 2008 to 2011 and used a portion of it to gamble at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
People who live in the condominium that she used to run say they are still dealing with the fallout of her fraud.
"It just crippled us," said Eddie Cruz, current association president.
Cruz said that while Marquez was in charge residents noticed things weren't being fixed in the buildings -- like pipes that leaked in the parking garages and elevators in need of repair.
"The cosmetics of the association were just deteriorating daily," Cruz told CBS 4's Carey Codd. "Things just weren't being paid attention to" while association fees were increasing.
When he became association vice president, Cruz requested to look at the financial records while Marquez was still in charge. Cruz said he saw association bank accounts were being opened and closed.
"We noticed that these particular accounts had debit cards that were being used at the Hard Rock Casino," Cruz said. "It was very shocking."
The board alerted police and after a two year investigation, Broward County Jail records show Marquez was arrested earlier this week. Cruz still can't believe what happened.
"Why? There's 66 units here," he said. "The majority of the people are elderly, work very hard. Why would you do this? Why would you want to hurt your neighbors?"
The arrest report reveals that Nancy Marquez admitted to police that she commingled the association's money with her own and "using money to gamble." The report also indicates the extensive fallout of the alleged fraud. The association "at one time had its' utilities disconnected due to non payment," the report reads. Cruz said the association was in the negative more than $60-thousand dollars and considered bankruptcy. He said the water and power were nearly shut off but the association worked with its' insurer, attorney and the city of Pembroke Pines to deal with the challenges.
"As time progressed, we were able to bounce back," Cruz said.
CBS 4 News visited Marquez at her home in Davie but she refused to answer a reporters' questions. Many who live in the condo association still cannot believe someone they trusted is accused of taking their money.
"I work hard," said resident Pilar Tovar. "I have to work hard. I guess she lives in another world."
The new association president does have a few words of advice to others who live in condo and homeowners' associations.
"Go to meetings, be aware," Cruz said. "If you feel that you don't know something or something doesn't look right, ask questions."
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