Comer canned: Homeowners oust missing treasurer
The case of the missing hiker is quickly becoming the case of the missing treasurer, as the homeowner association for Glenmore, the plush golf community, reveals that country club president Michael D. Comer went missing shortly before a key meeting about a financial audit. After his disappearance, the association replaced him as treasurer.
"The behind-the-scenes view of this is that he staged this thing and ran off," says Tommy Stafford of Nelson County Life, the first local publication to notice the identity of the missing man. "They can't be 100 percent sure," says Stafford, who has conferred with several top law enforcement officers, "but things are certainly looking that way."
Comer, whose day job is the presidency of Glenmore Country Club and who also represents the developer of the neighborhood of over 700 homes, reportedly went missing shortly after 9:30am Wednesday, July 1. That, according to a press release from the homeowners association, was less than an hour before a meeting with two association board members to discuss "incomplete data made available to the auditor."
After the discovery of Comer's vehicle that evening near his vacation house at Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County, a search began using rescue personnel and dogs. However, the following afternoon, the Nelson County Sheriff told Stafford that there was no evidence that Comer had gone hiking; and by Friday morning, the quest for the 45-year man in the Wintergreen area was officially terminated.
“As far as any search by our agency, we have discontinued looking for Comer," Sheriff David Brooks reportedly told Stafford on the morning of July 3, "but do continue to monitor other avenues in the investigation."
Those "other avenues" could keep investigators–- at least financial investigators–- busy for a while, as minutes from the Glenmore Community Association show currents of concern between the Association, which Comer served as secretary/treasurer, and the Country Club and the development company, both of which Comer was also serving.
With his marriage to former professional golfer Kandi Kessler, Comer, a former tour official on the LPGA's Futures tour, married into the family that developed Glenmore, and he assumed multiple roles over the years in the Kessler family businesses. He even ran the Frank Kessler Foundation, a non-profit that gives scholarships to local high school graduates.
It was Comer's efforts in the supposedly independent homeowner's association that caused some friction recently. According to Association records, Comer missed the monthly meeting when his disbursement of funds to a paving company came under scrutiny. The concern, according to the January 15 minutes, was that Comer had used Association money to fully pay a paving company contract, something an aggrieved homeowner would later call an "interest-free loan."
Two weeks later, at what the homeowner association termed a "special" meeting, Comer was reined in with several new rules: that contracts in excess of $10,000 would not only require board approval but also a voucher and the signatures of two officers on the check. That evening, January 29, the board reconvened to add another provision: initiation of a financial and managerial audit.
Representing the interests of the homeowners and operating with a 2009 budget of $732,000, the Association reports financial assets, as of the end of May, of $983,000. In a process that preceded the current turmoil, many functions now borne by the developer, such as common area maintenance, will soon be handed over to the Association.
The Association's July 6 release noted that Comer, representing the developer, has been "a supportive and well-liked board member" and that it moved to replace him as treasurer "in an abundance of caution." However, it also noted that it has "extended the scope of the external audit" beyond its original confinement to 2008.
With the homeowner association readily admitting in its minutes that its #2 expense is reviewing architecture and that even the governing board discusses such matters as uncut grass, unpainted bird boxes, and whether a particular contractor's sign is aesthetically pleasing, how can the public decide whether Comer engaged in financial shenanigans or simply had the misfortune of representing a family empire during a time of transition?
At this stage in the investigation, it probably can't. However, the results of the audit are due in two weeks, according to the Association. Comer could not be reached for comment.