OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There was tension in an Omaha courtroom on Tuesday as a confessed embezzler sought probation.
During eight years as treasurer of the Armbrust Homeowners Associated, David Campagna embezzled $174,000 his neighbors paid in dues.
"The books were bogus. Records were missing and falsified financial information was created," neighbor Les Robbins said.
Robbins is a CPA and uncovered the embezzlement. The theft cost each property owners a $300 assessment to rebuild the park, and luckily nobody got hurt there.
For five years the neighborhood of 550 homes had no liability insurance because the treasurer had put the premium money in his own pocket.
Campagna used his neighbors' money to help fund his business, School of Rock.
"No I didn't divert it for my own means, I diverted to keep the business open," he said in court.
Campagna paid the Armbrust Homeowners Association the money he embezzled, writing the final check in court while his attorney, Bill Gallup, lambasted neighbors who spoke up.
"They're lucky they're getting a damn dime. Most people in these cases don't get anything back, they lose everything," Gallup said.
Judge Russell Derr said restitution doesn't excuse the crime.
"You burglarize a home and you take all the furniture and property but you bring it all back, doesn't mean there isn't a felony. Doesn't mean there's not an offense," he explained.
Campagna was sentenced to 56 days in jail, with credit for time served.
When he left court in cuffs, Campagna claimed his embezzlement could have been handled by the homeowners association in a more neighborly way.
"I did offer to sit down and pay full restitution without going through the criminal case, and again I am deeply sorry," he said.
Campagna, who moved to Florida, will be on probation for five years after his release from jail.
The Armbrust Homeowners Association has added safeguards to make sure embezzlement doesn't happen again.