HOA, Condo Fraud & Embezzlement Roundup (November 2016)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

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Readers: prepare for a lengthy post this month. Quite a few former Association Board members and Managers caught in this roundup.

Elderly Rockford man charged with stealing homeowner association funds

By Jeff Kolkey, Staff writer (Rockford Register Star, IL)

ROCKFORD — An 82-year-old Rockford man was arrested Monday on charges of stealing from the homeowner’s association at Thatcher Blake Riverwalk Condos located in the 2400 block of South of Main Street.

Frank O. Tartaglia, a former resident of the condos with a view of the Rock River in southwest Rockford, was charged with one count of theft of more than $10,000 but less than $100,000. He also was charged with a second count of theft of more than $500.

Both are felonies, but conviction on the more serious charge could mean three to seven years in prison, according to Winnebago County court documents.

Read more:

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20161108/elderly-rockford-man-charged-with-stealing-homeowner-association-funds

The amount of the alleged theft in this case seems relatively small. But there are just 16 units and only 6 of them occupied by owners. The other 10 units are owned by a single investor-landlord and rented to tenants. Originally, the builder intended to construct 63 homes, but he declared bankruptcy in 2008. Six owner-occupants are in a risky financial situation, since the investor has a 62.5% ownership interest and is just 2 units shy of owning 75% of the Association – enough to terminate the Association. Yet for several years, homeowners entrusted one member of their small group with unfettered access to the bank accounts. 

 

Whistle blower: Management firm misused HOA funds

by Madeleine Osberger, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Friday, October 21, 2016
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Former employee accuses Alpine Valley Services of embezzlement since 2012

A complaint filed with the state of Colorado’s real estate regulatory agency alleges that a local property management firm has, since 2012, misused funds intended for homeowners’ association payments in the upscale residential neighborhoods at the base of Aspen Highlands.

The funds in question could total $500,000 or more, said a witness to the complaint filed recently with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Division of Real Estate, alleging misrepresentations by Diamond Kip’s Inc., which does business as Aspen Valley Services.

Read more:

http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/172933

This is case involves allegations that Diamond Kip’s Inc. collected assessments for services and amenities, but failed to distribute funds to separate owners’ associations. Oddly, two whistleblowers – now former employees who have resigned – reported suspicious activity to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) real estate division rather than going directly to police. The point is also made in the article that state agencies like DORA may investigate complains, but owners must file a lawsuit to enforce the law.  

 

 

Two indicted in $75,000 Wildwood condo theft case

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Shawmut Properties of Haverhill guilty of stealing money from condo associations

By Peter Francis pfrancis@eagletribune.com 13 hrs ago

SALEM, Mass. — Almost a year and a half after their indictment by an Essex grand jury, two executives of a Haverhill-based property management company pleaded no contest to stealing from several condominium associations.

Andrew Raynor and Matthew Dykeman of Shawmut Properties changed their pleas from not guilty in Salem Superior Court Wednesday on charges of stealing over $100,000 from condo developments in Lawrence and Marblehead, as well as Bedford and Rochester, New Hampshire.

Judge Thomas Drechsler sentenced the two men to two years of probation and ordered them to pay $20,000 in restitution to victims.

Read more:

http://www.eagletribune.com/news/shawmut-properties-of-haverhill-guilty-of-stealing-money-from-condo/article_263b60ec-a140-11e6-aae6-fba5bbb541cd.html

And here’s a second article with testimony from victims:

Property management company to pay restitution
NH condos among those bilked by Shawmut Properties execs

By Peter Francis pfrancis@eagletribune.com (Nov 2, 2016)

Excerpt:

When authorities raided Shawmut’s office at 200 Merrimack St. in Haverhill, Weld said employees there said Raynor and Dykeman told them to add hours to handwritten timesheets which were then sent in monthly digital invoices to multiple condo associations for maintenance work which wasn’t performed between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2014.

“On occasion, entire jobs were invented, when no work at all was done at all,” read Weld, adding that the average hourly rate for work performed was around $50, and that 20 hours were added per week to timesheets of laborers.

In addition, Weld read a statement from Adam Jacobs, a resident of Oliver’s Pond in Marblehead, who requested jail time for the defendants, and brought forward Joseph Trombley and Desiree Crossley, who were both members of the condo association at the Springfield Estates in Rochester, N.H., to share their experiences with Shawmut with the court.

Read full article:

http://www.eagletribune.com/news/property-management-company-to-pay-restitution/article_a9f91661-2fde-5053-a978-6775a778c97a.html

And a third:

Condo owners: Penalty too light
Say Shawmut officials should be barred from future work
By Peter Francis Staff Writer Nov 13, 2016

Excerpt:

Crossley and fellow former board member Joseph Trombley testified in court earlier this month that Shawmut Properties preyed on their 36-home development.

“I do not believe it’s fair that the communities will receive far less than what is believed to have been stolen,” she said.

http://www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/condo-owners-penalty-too-light/article_59f7622c-a060-58ce-abf8-348039eb9a5a.html

The message is becoming clear to perpetrators of fraud, theft, and embezzlement in Association-Governed Housing: plead guilty, and you’ll get off easy with probation and restitution that’s just a fraction of what you’ve admittedly stolen. And these two managers won’t be able to practice their profession for two years, but after their probation is over, they can go back into business under a different name in a different location, and potentially engage in the same illegal behavior. 

 

 

Woman pleads guilty to stealing more than $350,000 from 11 Birmingham condo associations

Ivana Hrynkiw | ihrynkiw@al.com By Ivana Hrynkiw | ihrynkiw@al.com

A woman who reportedly stole more than $350,000 from Birmingham condominium homeowner associations pleaded guilty this week to one count of wire fraud.

Jill Rouse, also known as Jill Rouse Boothby, 43, entered her plea agreement to U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala. Her sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17.

The maximum punishment for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of Rouse’s plea agreement, she will have pay $375,750 in restitution.

Read more:

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/11/woman_pleads_guilty_to_stealin.html

This is an update to a previous report of Rouse-Boothby’s arrest. Now that she has entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud, it will be interesting to see what her sentence will be. The FBI was involved in this investigation, and wire fraud carries stiff penalties as opposed to felony theft charges. 

 

Hammocks Community Association Employees Charged In Thefts (FL)

Hammocks Community Association (HCA) employee Angie Rose Lantigua and former employee Leslie Navarro have both been charged after an investigation revealed that they had diverted $148,050.17 of HCA funds into accounts that they personally controlled. Angie Rose Lantigua was employed by HCA as the Accounts Receivable clerk between 2010 and late 2015. Leslie Navarro was employed as the Accounts Payable Clerk by HCA between 2008 and late 2015.

By creating a bank account utilizing the name “Hammocks Community Association Properties, LLC”, Leslie Navarro was able to redirect HCA funds ($148,050.17) to an account over which she had sole control. The investigation of this bank account revealed that $54, 500 was later wire-transferred to Ms. Lantigua’s personal bank account.

http://www.miamisao.com/hammocks-community-association-employees-charged-thefts/

The Association’s Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable clerks conspired to divert money to a bank account under their control. What’s amazing is that the bank never caught on that no Association board member signatures were on an account bearing the name of the Association. Both women have been charged with two felony counts: Organized scheme to defraud and Grand Theft. 

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Lawsuit filed against former Lakes Northwest HOA board member

Posted: Nov 14, 2016 7:05 PM EST
Updated: Nov 14, 2016 7:06 PM EST
By Jane Caffrey

Earlier this year, KRIS 6 News told you about an investigation that found an estimated $61,000 missing from the Lakes Northwest Homeowners Association account. Now there is a civil lawsuit against the woman who was president of that HOA at the time.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the HOA and their insurance company against Jessica Plimper. It claims Plimper took $85,000 from the Homeowners Association.

The lawsuit reads: “Unfortunately, it appears greed got the better of Plimper, as she used her Board position and check writing authority to misappropriate nearly $85,000 for her personal use.”

http://www.kristv.com/story/33707648/lawsuit-filed-against-former-lakes-northwest-hoa-board-member

In addition to filing criminal charges for HOA theft, fraud, and embezzlement, the Association also opts to file a civil suit in an attempt to recover a greater share of their losses. 

 

Sheriff’s office worker and husband accused of grand theft from Lantana homeowner’s group
WPEC-Ch. 12

A husband and wife from Lake Worth, who are former leaders of the Lantana Homes Homeowner’s Association, are accused of using HOA money for their personal bills.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested Darlene Jeannette Cox and her husband William Cox.

Both are facing charges of organized scheme to defraud of $50,000 and grand theft over $100,000.

Witnesses told investigators Darlene Cox worked as the treasurer of the Lantana Homes HOA. William Cox worked as its president for over 10 years.

Read more :

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/sfl-pbso-employee-and-husband-accused-of-fraud-grand-theft-from-hoa-20161116-story.html

Former Lantana HOA president accused of stealing more than $300,000

 By Julius Whigham II – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted: 8:10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016

The former president of a Lantana homeowners association was arrested Wednesday for allegedly misappropriating more than $300,000 from its accounts to pay his personal expenses.

William J. Cox Jr., 61, is facing one count of organized scheme to defraud and grand theft over $100,000. Authorities say Cox and another person stole an estimated $339,507.69 from the Lantana Homes Homeowners Association. A probable-cause arrest affidavit did not disclose the identity of Cox’s alleged accomplice.

Read more details:

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/former-lantana-hoa-president-accused-of-stealing-m/ns9LQ/

Here we have a husband and wife duo who both served on the HOA board for more than a decade, that allegedly bilked their association out of more than $300K. Up until her arrest, the wife worked for the County Sheriff.

 

Convicted HOA embezzler released from jail November 18, 2016, 05:00 AM

The Daily Journal – The former manager of the Woodlake Homeowners Association who was convicted of embezzling nearly $2.8 million from the San Mateo property owners group will be released from jail while she awaits sentencing.

Susan Marie Lambert, 65, appeared in court Thursday asking for her $1 million bail to be reduced. After her defense attorney argued she had been a model inmate since entering custody in 2015, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Lee ignored prosecutors’ objections and released Lambert on her own supervised recognizance, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

– See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2016-11-18/convicted-hoa-embezzler-released-from-jail/1776425171548.html#sthash.q24EBelt.dpuf

Another convicted embezzler claiming a gambling addiction. The DA is not happy about her release from jail.

 

Homeowners left hanging after $276,000 stolen from condo association

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