By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Michelle Changer-Coe has been convicted of grand theft from Mainlands Section 7 Homeowners Association in Tamarac, Florida. The Court recently sentenced the former HOA President to 5 years in prison and 15 years of probation. According to the Sun Sentinel, Changar-Coe entered a guilty plea. She had been charged with grand theft of $180,000, acquired by forging signatures on checks drawn on the Association’s bank account, and then depositing those checks into her personal account.
Ex-official who stole from Tamarac homeowners association gets prison sentence
Several owners testified that the theft of funds from their association resulted in financial hardship. The theft took place between 2009 – 2013. It has taken nearly three years to investigate and prosecute Changer-Coe, and it is highly unlikely that the homeowners will ever recover stolen funds.
But, could this crime have been prevented?
One interesting fact revealed in the article by the Sun Sentinel: back in 1997, Changar-Coe also pleaded guilty t0 “grand theft and uttering a forged instrument,” but the judge withheld adjudication – ordering 3 years probation without a conviction.
However, had the HOA run a background check, the arrest record would have showed up on the report. Conviction or not, the information might have prevented Changer-Coe from being elected to the board.
Yet in Florida and most other states, there is no law requiring a background check for board members or employees of Association-Governed Housing associations, even if those individuals will be handling money or have access to association bank accounts.