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Palm Coast Friday, Mar. 8, 2019 2 months ago

Palm Coast fires Palm Harbor Golf Club manager over theft allegations

Tim Spangler had been hired in August 2017. He contested the city's charges.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast has fired its golf pro over allegations that he stole city money. He appealed, saying he was innocent, but interim City Manager Beau Falgout signed off on his dismissal.

The city hired golf pro Tim Spangler in August 2017 as general manager of Palm Harbor Golf Club, the city's municipal course.

The allegations of theft surfaced when someone reported them through the city's internal reporting process, city spokeswoman Cindi Lane said. 

The city placed Spangler on administrative leave for the investigation Feb 1. It didn't take long: The city found three checks that were for campers in the city's golf camp, but had been made out to Spangler personally, according to an investigative report.

He'd deposited the checks, totaling $485, and had not reimbursed the city, according to the report. He'd not registered the students through the city's camp registration software, leaving the city no record of their attendance. He also, violating investigators' instructions, spoke to other employees during the investigation and in at least one instance asked an employee not to tell the truth, according to the report. 

The city notified Spangler on Feb. 7 that it planned to fire him. It did so Feb. 12. Falgout rejected Spangler's appeal and upheld the termination Feb. 19, according to Lane. 

Spangler, in his appeal, wrote that the checks had been for campers who were registered late, and that the parents had made out the checks to him, rather than to the city, mistakenly. He wrote that he'd deposited the checks, but had then written personal checks to the city as reimbursement, and had placed the reimbursement checks into a finance office invoice bin at the golf club. He didn't know what happened to them after that. The city never received them, according to the city.

"At no time was there ever intent to steal money from summer camps," Spangler wrote. "I had proper documentation covering all bases for the checks and the finance bin was empty so in my assumption the documents had been delivered to the proper location. The definition of stealing is to take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it. That never happened in this instance."

Falgout did not accept those explanations.

"During our conversation, you indicated that staff had been trained on the proper way to enroll citizens or their children in the camp and that all registrations had to go through the proper process," Falgout wrote in his response to Spangler's appeal. "However, you did acknowledge that you cashed the checks made out to you but you did not follow-up with Finance, or during the budget process, or your bank, to ensure that your “reimbursements” processed and that the City received the appropriate payment."

The city is still investigating the case, and, in the meantime, Parks & Recreation Department director Alex Boyer's staff are running the golf course.

"City administration is disappointed, obviously," Lane stated. "The city has many policies to safeguard monies received for city services and programs and to properly account for all city funds. We are already reviewing how this occurred to ensure it never happens again."

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