By Joel Beall
Aussie legend Greg Norman has taken his name off the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy in Myrtle Beach, as the school is entangled in a misappropriation scheme.
MyrtleBeachOnline.com reports that Jose Manuel Fernandez Del Puerto, the managing partner of the academy, was arrested on charges of embezzlement on March 13. Authorities have accused Fernandez of withdrawing $US2 million in construction funds from a resort/hotel project next to the school’s driving range. Police reports state that Fernandez moved the money set aside for construction from a business account to his personal chequing account.
“We have been made aware of the unfortunate incident surrounding Mr Jose Fernandez Del Puerto, and have terminated his licence to use the Greg Norman name or continue any further association between his businesses and Greg Norman,” read a statement from Norman’s eponymous company. “We do not have any other comment at this time.”
The school has been pulled from Norman’s company website.
The academy has also been charged with unpaid taxes from 2017 and 2018, while Callaway Golf has an outstanding default judgement against the school for nearly $US35,0000.
The school, which acts an international academy, debuted in 2012 with Norman’s name. Its students are housed and also take non-golf classes at the facility.
For his part, Fernandez – who is out after posting a $US100,000 bond –proclaims his innocence, and stated he can prove all the funds are accounted. Moreover, in a Facebook note, he says the academy is still opening for business.
“We’re still moving forward,” Fernandez said in a social post. “So far nothing has changed. The academy has been the same, obviously with a bit more tension of what the [heck] happened, but that doesn’t change anything. We still have our summer camps, we still have class 2019-2020 open.”