Man turns himself in for embezzling in Palo Alto


"We all went through a range of emotion: anger, hurt, surprise," said Sean Giffen from the Greenmeadow Community Association.

All of Greenmeadow neighborhood association's outrage is focused on Allen. The 29-year-old went from being the association's trusted administrative manager to someone who admitted to charging tens of thousands of dollars on the group's credit card. He used it as if it were his own credit card.

Palo Alto police say Allen first used the association's card for a personal expense by accident in early 2010 and no one noticed.

"Once he got started and realized that he could get away with it, that it was addictive, he said it was like a drug, it was like gambling," said Palo Alto Police Det. James Reifschneider.

But Allen was gambling with other people's money. Money, those in the neighborhood pay to use a pool, park, and rec center.

"One of the charges was for an air conditioning unit for a rental property that he owns, while we don't have air conditioning here," said Giffen. "He had a hair transplant surgery -- that one was fairly bizarre."

The charges ran the gamut from Starbucks lattes to the furniture he bought for his new business -- Acro Gymnastics in Redwood City.

"...Disappointing to hear what he paid for," said Matt Gindervogel, a Greenmeadow resident.

He left Greenmeadows in January to open the studio and that's when the new administrator noticed the charges. In March, Allen sent a handwritten apology letter to the community saying, "The crimes I have committed are pathetic and hurtful. I got caught up in a vicious cycle of greed, selfishness and deceit."

"We had established a certain amount of trust with him over the years. We say in many ways, he was kind of a member of our family," said Giffen.

The neighborhood association has also learned a few lessons. It now has a new set of checks and balances in place and multiple people are in charge of the bank account.

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