State and county law enforcement raided the main office of the Key Largo Ocean Resort RV cooperative Thursday (July 16), seizing computers and documents.
A search warrant signed by Monroe County Judge Regan Ptomey states the raid was in response to allegations that Pedro Salva, president of the trailer park’s board of directors, and office manager Marie Hernandez were using cooperative money for personal use, according to KeysNet, Tavernier.
The raid was conducted by sheriff’s office deputies.
Sheriff’s office Detective Greg Larochelle wrote in the warrant that documents he obtained allege Salva used $1,484.58 in member dues to pay for repairs to his personal vehicle.
The warrant also alleges Hernandez was paid $2,141 in Key Largo Ocean Resort funds to pay off a personal tax lien.
The co-op’s bylaws state that only a majority vote by all residents can justify spending member money on non-business-related items.
No one was arrested in the raid. Salva and Hernandez could not be reached for comment.
According to the warrant, park resident Maria Lopez obtained an audit conducted by Miami certified public accounting firm Hoyos & Aguilar P.A. The firm was hired in June 2007 by some residents to investigate “allegations of misappropriation of assets by the board of directors and its employees,” according to the warrant.
The audit uncovered the alleged misspending by both Salva and Hernandez, Larochelle wrote in the warrant. The warrant also states that Lopez “was able to obtain additional documentation such as receipts, campaign contributions, and cash reimbursements to board members.”
The 22-acre, almost 300-unit RV park has been embroiled in legal battles since the 1990s.
The board of directors, heeding county orders, created a development plan to bring the park into compliance earlier in the decade. The park had been out of compliance throughout most of its existence. It was zoned for recreational vehicles only, but residents built trailers with permanent decks, Florida rooms and other additions.
The redevelopment plan calls for all the structures to be razed and replaced by modular homes. But soon after the plan was voted on by the residents, many accused Salva and the board of submitting a different plan to the county than was accepted by residents. These residents said they voted to only bring the park up to code, not to destroy and rebuild it.