PANAMA CITY BEACH — Officials of the Panama City Beach Sports Complex say they have fired the finance manager who was recently arrested after allegedly embezzling $37,000.
Darren Landry, a 51-year-old Walton County resident, was charged with grand theft and ongoing scheme to defraud, a Tuesday press release from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office states.
“Through our process and reporting, we noticed some irregularities in the financial reporting,” said Jason Clement, CEO of the complex. “We did an investigation and determined there were funds that were missing.”
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Finding evidence of theft, officials of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the managing business for the complex, filed a report with the sheriff’s office. A BCSO investigation revealed that Landry had embezzled $37,000 during the past year, BCSO reported.
As part of his daily job, Landry was not only in charge of the proceeds taken in by the complex, but also had access to all funds and accounting documents.
Investigators reported that they believe he was changing the amount of money taken in on the complex’s accounting documents to hide the amount of money he was stealing.
Landry was arrested on warrants with the assistance of the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. He was booked into the Walton County Jail and will be extradited to Bay County for his first court appearance.
“The good news is the system, the process of review caught the irregularities and discrepancies,” Clement said. “This is a publicly-owned complex that ultimately taxpayers have paid for and when you’re stewards of anybody’s money — but certainly the public’s money — public trust is critically important.”
Clement noted Wednesday that his group already had filled Landry’s position. He declined then to release the name of the new finance manager.
Clement also said the embezzled money was replaced and the situation did not hinder any services at the complex.
“We’ve got a full 2022 scheduled, (and) it’s going to be the best year yet at the park,” he said. “We still have more campaigns and initiatives going on and so we’re really excited about the future.
“We just need to make sure that … we get the right systems in place to make sure it never happens again.”