When former Palm Harbor Golf Club General Manager Timothy Spangler was fired in February, a Palm Coast government internal investigation had found that he’d allegedly stolen $485. Three checks totaling that amount had been made out to him as enrollment fees for children in the city’s summer golf program. He cashed the checks. The checks should have been made out to the city.
Spangler contested the accusation and said he’d later written out a check to the city for the amount, though the city never got the money. He was believed to have been fired over that amount.
The city, in fact, had more, and in late February decided to pursue criminal charges against Spangler after finding personal checks totaling almost $5,000 made out to him for golf lessons and endorsed by him. During the city’s internal investigation, “it was revealed that approximately four dozen checks were located inside Mr. Spangler’s office desk,” a Flagler County Sheriff’s Office charging affidavit states.
Today, the sheriff’s office filed two felony charges against Spangler, 47, a resident of 1729 Wild Dune Circle in orange Park: scheme to defraud and grand theft. The charges were forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether formalize them in an information document. Sheriff Rick Staly today took the unusual step of issuing a release explicitly asking the State Attorney’s Office to file the charges against Spangler.
“This guy thought he could be slick and deposit checks into his own bank account and that his employer wouldn’t notice,” the sheriff was quoted as saying in the release. “His actions not only hurt his employer but the residents of the City of Palm Coast who want to enjoy programs like the one he was defrauding. We are requesting the State Attorney’s Office formally file charges against him.”
Spangler became the new General Manager of Palm Harbor Golf Club–the fourth general manager there in five years–in August 2017, shortly before the city took back day-to-day management of what was then a perennially money-losing course. He was responsible for all golf operations and overseeing turf care and food and beverage at Palm Harbor.
At the beginning of 2018, Palm Coast government launched a whistle-blower system, enabling the anonymous reporting of improprieties by city employees through a web page and other means. Spangler was the first of a series of individuals who’d be investigated. Then-Human Resources Director Wendy Cullen told him of the city’s intention to fire him. He appealed the decision to Beau Falgout, the interim manager at the time, but Falgout upheld the decision.
Two weeks later Jay Maher, the city’s compliance manager who chiefly investigates internal matters, met with sheriff’s deputies and informed them of the four dozen checks located in Spangler’s desk, all made out to him for golf lessons, and totaling $4,943.
Issues had arisen regarding Spangler’s payment methods the previous summer, according to a memo from Alex Boyer, the parks and recreation director at the time (Cullen and Boyer have since resigned.) “Around the time period in question – summer of 2018,” Boyer wrote Spangler on feb. 12, “you and I had a conversation about reports that you were accepting checks made out to you, personally, rather than to the City. At no time during that conversation did you mention that you either had checks in your possession, nor did you mention that at some point you had cashed checks and then paid the City back. It would be illogical to believe that after that phone call, you would accept checks written to you. It is also my recollection of the conversation that we had decided if there was any irregularity to report, we would do so together.”
The city’s billing department reported never receiving reimbursement checks from Spangler. Maher told a sheriff’s detective he believed Spangler was conducting private lessons to members of the golf course on company time, but the city did not have sufficient evidence in that regard.
The sheriff’s office subpoenaed Spangler’s bank records at Wells Fargo and at Bank of America in April and June. There was no relevant activity in the Wells Fargo account. But on July 10, detectives received documents from Bank of America, “which showed numerous mobile deposits for children’s summer camp, and Saturday lessons,” the affidavit states. “The list is as follows: (17) deposits at $15.00 each for Saturday lessons, (2) deposits at $185.00 each, and (1) deposit at $300.00 for children’s summer camp, totaling $925.00.”
Spangler met with detectives in person on June 20 in St. Augustine, admitting to receiving three checks for the children’s summer camp–but only the same three checks he’d admitted to accepting previously, and for which he said he’d written a check back to the city (the check the city says it never received).
“I asked Mr. Spangler if he was sure he never received any other checks from customers of the golf course,” a detective reported in the charging affidavit, “and he stated that he did receive checks for lessons he provided on his own time that were not related to Palm Harbor Golf Course. Mr. Spangler did not provide any further information that was beneficial to the case.”
That was before detectives had received the information from Bank of America. After they got that information, they made contact with Spangler again by phone and attempted to setup another interview with him, but he refused to discuss the case further.
Palm Coast decided no longer to have a general manager at the Palm Harbor course after Spangler’s firing.