Ranch House scandal takes a toll on accountant

'No good dead goes unpunished'

Accountant Walter Miller (left) played a key role in the acquisition of the Ranch House Restaurant and golf course, but bowed out as the organization’s accountant last spring. In spite of being told otherwise, no one filled his position after he left the daily operations of the two organizations behind the restoration effort.

Accountant Walter Miller (left) played a key role in the acquisition of the Ranch House Restaurant and golf course, but bowed out as the organization’s accountant last spring. In spite of being told otherwise, no one filled his position after he left the daily operations of the two organizations behind the restoration effort.

BEAVER CREEK -- Walter Miller has done pro bono accounting work for several non-profits in the Verde Valley.

So when he was asked to assist with the creation of a non-profit and a for-profit organization to help save the Ranch House Restaurant and Beaver Creek Golf Course, he agreed to help.

As a full time resident of the Beaver Creek community, at the time, he felt there was value in restoring the properties and getting them back up and running.

He still holds that conviction.

But over the last week or so, Miller has taken to describing his role as the accountant of record for both the Beaver Creek Community Development Corporation and the Ranch House Coalition, LLC, as a classic example of "no good dead goes unpunished."

The recent allegations of theft against BCCDC President Kala Pearson and the fact that Miller's name remains on all public documents related to the two organizations have taken a toll.

"The basic problem remains that you have a very small group of people who are trying to make a difference. And then when something goes wrong they get blasted. Everyone gets painted with the same brush. It a toll on everyone who volunteers, for whatever the reason," he says.

Miller, who now lives in Camp Verde but still has a home in Beaver Creek, says he bowed out of the BCCDC and the RHC, LLC, at least as far as accounting and bookkeeping were concerned, last spring, after filing tax papers for the organizations.

"When the Ranch House Coalition really started to take off, I got involved related to the upfront stuff in terms of getting the thing organized and getting the property acquired.

"It was never my intention to be the full time accountant. I had too many other things on my plate. So when it got close to opening I told the group that I needed to pull back," he says.

Miller says he was told the organization had found someone to assume the responsibilities.

"I put it totally out of my mind and went on about all my other stuff," he says.

That is until shortly after received a call from the BCCDC Secretary Janet Aniol telling him that Pearson was in jail.

"All of the sudden all this stuff comes down and I find out nobody was doing the accounting work. The records are all still there but they were in not in any kind of accounting format," he says.

In retrospect, Miller says he regrets leaving without making sure he was removed as the accountant of record.

"I should have resigned and totally stepped away, but I respected what was going on over there. It is good for the community,

"There is nothing on the Ranch House side of the ledger, outside of the allegations of money coming from the other organization, that should bring discredit to the Ranch House and all the effort that has been made to bring life back to the community," says Miller.

Miller says that in spite of everything, he believes that Ranch House and the golf course remain viable.

"I am hoping they can all pull together and I believe they can. It has helped to bring employment to the area and restore property values. It is important work and this unfortunate blemish is disconcerting to everyone.

"It is still viable as long as everyone stays focused on what it is doing and continues to support it from both inside and outside the community," says Miller.

Miller says he is currently helping get the organization's books back in order. He will have a report to give to the shareholders at a meeting scheduled for Jan. 17 at the Ranch House Restaurant.

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