When business owner Roger Mauermann met Robert Murphy at a youth baseball game, Mauermann decided to take a chance.
Murphy — a recent east coast transplant looking for work — boasted a financial savvy and hard work ethic, which led Mauermann to hire him. When Mauermann's son got into a serious car accident in September 2012, Mauermann asked Murphy to step in to run the business.
"He wanted to come help us at work and help us grow our company, and I agreed," he said. "The time that we talked, I mean, he really just touched our hearts."
But the same game that brought the two together would be the downfall of their personal and professional relationship.
While Mauermann was caring for his son, deputies said Murphy was siphoning off Mauermann's Arctic Air Conditioning business accounts to pay for youth baseball equipment, travel teams and upkeep of the Lantana baseball fields. In the end, he took more than $100,000 from his former friend, according to an arrest report
It all started in spring 2011, when Mauermann met Murphy while the two were involved with their sons' youth baseball teams in Lantana. Mauermann said Murphy was a family guy who had recently moved to South Florida from Pennsylvania. He was personable, kind and easy to get along with, Mauermann said.
Murphy was also the president of the Lantana Athletic Association, a now-defunct nonprofit that maintained the Lantana baseball fields and ran youth leagues. When Murphy told Mauermann he was looking for work, Mauermann wanted the family man on his team.
More than a year later, things took a dramatic turn in September 2012 turn when Mauermann's son, Cody, 18, got into a car accident near Orlando. Mauermann said his son was clinging to life.
A distraught Mauermann moved to Orlando and left his business in the hands of Murphy. It was only when he returned nine months later that he suspected his friend had taken money from him.
Other employees told him while he was away, Murphy spent his time at the ball park and traveling across Florida with his son's travel team.
"Our family was completely upside down," Mauermann said. "I was sad, I was depressed. I didn't know what to think."
Murphy's attorney, Andrew Strecker, said his client is pleading not guilty to the charges. He added that once more information comes out in court Murphy will be exonerated.
While Mauermann was away, Murphy was in charge of finances. The company's secretary, Raffaela Liuzzo-Mazzocchi, said Murphy would tell her that they had to turn down projects because Mauermann was taking money out of the accounts.
"I never had any access to any bank accounts, so I never knew what was going in," Liuzzo-Mazzocchi said. "I only had simple tabulations in my mind. But the numbers didn't add up. I would question, where's the money going?"
Liuzzo-Mazzocchi had gotten the job just a week before Mauermann's son's accident. She also worked with Murphy as a board member of the Lantana Athletic Association. She believed Murphy when he told her it was Mauermann who was emptying the bank account.
But Mauermann said while he was in Orlando, he opted to not take a paycheck. He told Murphy it wouldn't be fair and that he would live off his savings.
He didn't suspect anything either, he said. His first red flag came when Liuzzo-Mazzocchi told him she was upset in spring 2013 about him spending money meant to go toward the business.
"I confronted him because everybody in the office had ill feelings," she said. "They were hurt and upset because they had given so much."
Mauermann was stunned. He wasn't taking out money, he told Liuzzo-Mazzocchi, and he would go down to the bank and prove it.