TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A former Tallahassee property manager was arrested after failing to give owners of rental properties more than $140,000 in rent and deposits, according to court documents.
Michelle Renee Fox, 49, was booked into the Leon County Detention Center on Saturday on the first-degree felony of operating an organized scheme to defraud people of more than $50,000. She was released from jail on a $50,000 bond.
Numerous Tallahassee property owners hired Fox to collect security deposits and rent and to oversee minor repairs, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by a Tallahassee Police Department investigator.
Doing business as Fox Properties Management Solution (FPMS), she collected funds in person, by mail or through an online program.
Fox began appropriating funds from the business' bank accounts for her personal use in April or May 2015, the investigator wrote, and the total of missing funds is more than $140,000.
Fox said she kept some of the owners' portion of the collected rent because she had expenses to pay, such as utilities and repairs, the investigator wrote.
Her contracts with clients said she was to receive compensation of half of the first month's rent and ten percent of the rent collected for the apartment, house, condo, duplex or mobile home.
But when Fox's personal and business banking accounts were subpoenaed as of Oct. 26, 2016, according to court documents, the account she used for security deposits had a zero balance as of Oct. 7, 2016. The account for rental fees was negative, and the operational account was zero.
Sometimes when property owners asked Fox about discrepancies in their accounts or about their expected rental proceeds, she delayed addressing the problem and offered excuses. Her excuses included that she herself was sick or had a sick family member.
A TPD investigator said that on Aug. 21, 2017, Fox waived her Miranda Warning in an interview he recorded at her house and told him that she had not been in business for about 18 months.
The investigator told Fox that numerous clients had reported that she had collected rent and not turned the funds over to property owners.
He said complaints were received by the TPD, the Leon County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Responding to the investigator's questions, Fox said that when she quit managing properties she gave the owners their money and their files.
But after search warrants were executed, the investigator wrote, files for clients were found at Fox's business and her home.
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