By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Today’s news: South Carolina management company Marshland Communities LLC is reportedly facing a lawsuit from fifty (50) Association Governed Residential Communities. The Associations allege that Colie billed them for services that were never performed.
According the report, staff members of Marshland Communities have signed affidavits stating that Colie admitted to them that she engaged in fraudulent billing.
Dozens of Lowcountry homeowners associations sue property manager
Meredith Millender, an employee since 2016, filed an affidavit said Colie admitted to her that she billed some of the properties for services that weren’t provided. “She stated, “I made some terrible mistakes in an effort to stay afloat and it has caught up with me. I tried hard to fix everything but it was too much,'” Millender wrote in the affidavit. “She further stated, ‘I can’t even begin to describe the sorry, regret, shame and fear … I’m very aware of what my actions have done to people’s lives.”
Adam Kraemer, a Marshland employee since July 2015, said in an affidavit that he confronted Colie about suspicious transactions on March 4 and she also admitted it to him. According to Kraemer’s affidavit, Colie told him, “I only took money from the ones I could get away with.”
At the plaintiffs’ request, a judge on Monday appointed a receiver, IMC Resort Services, to take over the accounts. The judge also ordered the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office to secure the company’s office at 3730 Bohicket Road on Johns Island, as well as its records and bank accounts.
A representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigations said agents were aware of the lawsuit but wouldn’t comment on whether they had opened a criminal investigation.
Hmmm. Stay tuned. No doubt there will be future reports.
Now, you may be wondering about Marshland Communities LLC. What professional credentials do they have? Here’s a screen shot from their website. Read for yourself. You’ll see a few familiar trade groups that offer licensing or certifications for their management team – the very same trade groups that lobby against consumer-friendly legislation and regulation of Association Managers and companies.
And regarding Karen Colie specifically, here’s a screen shot of her LinkedIn profile:
Checking out Alliance of Community Association Managers – ACAM, it appears Colie is no longer on the Board of Directors.
Now, I am sure that the majority of Association Managers / Property Managers in South Carolina and across the US are honest professionals.
But those of us who follow HOA industry news know that reports of unprofessional and even criminal behavior committed by homeowners’ and condo association managers is becoming all too common. Doesn’t this tarnish the reputation of the industry and its professionals? How can consumers feel comfortable putting their trust in professional community management, as this epidemic of violating the trust of homeowners continues?
Isn’t it time for common sense enforcement of ethical management standards. Isn’t it time for meaningful professional accountability?
Or, alternatively, perhaps it is time to return control of homeownership back to individual owners, and deed common areas back to our municipalities and counties.