Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
-Economic Crimes Unit
-Case was conducted in collaboration with detectives formerly with the St. Pete Beach Police Department, and who are currently deputies with the Sheriff’s Office
Harold James (Arrested)
Address: 2826 Saint Andrews Boulevard, Tarpon Springs
Arrested for money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 15-counts grand theft
Sam Baage (Arrested in Dade County)
Address: Miami Beach
Arrested for money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 14-counts grand theft
Tradewinds Resort (Victim)
5500 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach
Detectives assigned to the Sheriff’s Economic Crimes Unit in collaboration with detectives formerly of the St. Pete Beach Police Department (who are now deputy sheriff’s) have arrested two men after they embezzled over $780,000 from the Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach. According to detectives, the two men created shell corporations through the State of Florida and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the resort through these fictitious entities.
The suspects were arrested on warrants on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.
One of the suspects (James) was arrested in Tarpon Springs; the second (Baage) was arrested in Miami Beach, Dade County FL.
St. Pete Beach detectives began the investigation in November of 2011 after the department received a complaint of possible theft involving the two subjects. In January of 2013 the investigation transitioned into the Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit along with St. Pete Beach Police Department’s transition to the Sheriff’s Office; and a collaborative investigation was launched.
Detectives say the men identified as 46-year-old Harold James and 58-year-old Sam Baage, who were employed by the Tradewinds Resort as Head of the Information Technology Department and Chief Financial Officer, respectively, created several fictitious companies, billed the Tradewinds Resort for services they never received and embezzled a total of $782,018.
According to investigators, the two stole the funds between January 1, 2007 and February 16, 2012. Detectives say the suspects used the money gained through their criminal activities to lead very comfortable lifestyles. Both men were employed by the Tradewinds since 2005 until they were terminated in February of 2012 .
After a 15-month long investigation, detectives obtained warrants for the arrest of the suspects.
James was arrested at about 9:00 a.m. on February 13, 2013 during a traffic stop in Tarpon Springs. He was arrested for money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 15 counts of grand-theft and transported to the Pinellas County Jail without further incident.
Baage was arrested at about 10:00 a.m. on February 13, 2013 at the Setai Hotel and Resort in Miami Beach, where he was currently employed as a CFO. He was arrested for money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 14-counts grand theft. He is being held at the Miami-Dade County Jail.
The investigation continues.