Indictment day? Comer faces grand jury
Michael D. Comer, 45, the former treasurer of Glenmore Community Association who disappeared on the day of an audit last summer, along with an alleged $666,000 of the homeowner association's money, goes to an Albemarle grand jury December 7 on five counts of embezzlement.
Comer, also the former president of the Glenmore Country Club, married into the family of the man who developed the gated community east of town. Comer has been out on $50,000 bond since July 28, when his brother- and sister-in-law, Jeff and Motana K. Gaffney, posted his bond.
Jeff Gaffney is chairman and CEO of Real Estate III. His wife, Motana, is the daughter of Frank Kessler, late founder of the real estate company as well as the 700-plus-home golf community of Glenmore. Comer married another Kessler daughter, golf pro Kandi.
Comer's July 1 disappearance from the couple's Wintergreen getaway home made him the summer's high-profile missing person until he appeared July 27 after calling his wife from a pay phone in Wintergreen.
An audit of the Glenmore Community Association revealed that the Kessler family-owned Glenmore Associates, which employed Comer, owed the homeowners association $666,466. Through Gaffney and Comer's mother-in-law, Peggy Kessler, Glenmore Associates has made a payment of $300,000 and, issuing a promissory note for the balance, pledged repayment of $347,000 by next August.
Not all homeowners are satisfied.
"They made a huge mistake, and I knew it," says resident Ann Harrod, who believes Glenmore Associates ought to be sued for breaching a fiduciary responsibility. "The only way to get information out is through discovery," she says.
Glenmore Associates has offered up the Glenmore Country Club and four lots as collateral.
"Bogus," blasts Harrod, who argues that the club and lots could not be liquidated to come up with the balance due.
Since l'affaire Comer, the homeowners' association has made some changes to procedures that allowed Comer to serve as secretary/treasurer since 1994 with little oversight, while also being employed by developer Glenmore Associates.
"We have a new secretary and treasurer," says president Trevor Joscelyne, "and a whole new set of procedures. We have every reason to expect the rest of the money will be paid back."
The Glenmore Associates-owned equestrian center recently was sold, and several country club staffers have been fired, according to Glenmore residents. And the club's former director of golf, Kandi Kessler Comer, now teaches private lessons through her new golf academy at Glenmore.
"The country club has suffered as a result of Mike Comer's actions," says Joscelyne.
Joscelyne believes there's no evidence the scandal has affected housing prices in Glenmore. "It happened, and we put it behind us," he says.
Still, the size of the alleged crime dwarfs the fall's other case of alleged homeowner association treasurer malfeasance. Kevin O'Connor, longtime officer for the Mill Creek Homeowners Association, was arrested November 9 and charged with embezzling $10,000.
The Comers appear to be liquidating assets. They have listed a house they own on Richmond Road for sale originally at $425,000, now reduced to $325,000. The Wintergreen chalet has been offered for $318,000. Even their primary residence in nearby Milton Village has hit the market–- priced at $998,000, $32,000 less than what they paid in 2005.
Each of the five counts of embezzlement carries a maximum of 20 years in jail, and Comer, prohibited from setting foot in Glenmore, has kept a low-profile since his arrest. Neither he nor his Warrenton attorney, Blair Howard, returned a reporter's phone calls.