HOA, Condo Fraud, Theft, Embezzlement Roundup (Feb. 2017)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

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A collection of reports of corruption in common interest, association governed communities.

Debt collector pleads guilty to defrauding Lee, Collier HOAs (FL)

Published: February 1, 2017 5:38 PM EST
WINK News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A man pleaded guilty to communications fraud for his role in debt collection scam that took at least $56,000 from three homeowners’ associations in Lee and Collier counties.

Robert Dana Brown also owed more than $48,000 to another nine homeowners’ associations, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation said Wednesday. Brown was ordered to pay a cash restitution of more than $105,000.

Read more:
http://www.winknews.com/2017/02/01/debt-collector-pleads-guilty-to-defrauding-lee-collier-hoas/

According to the official news release by OFR, Robert Dana Brown was unlicensed. He admitted to collecting past due HOA assessments and fees, but not reimbursing a dozen homeowners’ associations. 

 

Accountant Accused of Stealing $100,000 From Homeowners Association (GA)
Cartersville resident Gregory James Heath is charged with 60 counts of theft by taking.

By Kristal Dixon (Patch Staff) – February 2, 2017 10:26 am ET

CARTERSVILLE, GA — A local accountant has been charged with stealing money from a homeowner’s association for more than a year.

Investigators with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office arrested Gregory James Heath, 43, of Cartersville on Wednesday in connection to the case.

According to Sheriff Clark Millsap, detectives with the agency’s Criminal Investigations Divisions launched a probe into reported thefts of money from the HOA between July 2015 and August 2016.

Read more:

http://patch.com/georgia/cartersville/accountant-accused-stealing-100-000-homeowners-association

Heath was the accountant hired by the HOA. Were any of the accountant’s other clients also victims of theft? 

 

Embezzlement suspect receives probation sentence (MI)

POSTED BY: JT FEBRUARY 2, 2017
MARQUETTE — A Gwinn woman accused of embezzling $19,000 from The Pines at Red Fox Woods Condominium Association was sentenced Thursday morning in Marquette County District Court.

Tracy Spruitenburg, 44, received 12 months probation plus court fines and costs. Spruitenburg was arrested by the Forsyth Township Police Department in October for embezzling $19,000 from the association.

Read more: (VIDEO)

http://www.abc10up.com/2017/02/02/embezzlement-suspect-receives-probation-sentence/

The judge and fellow homeowners took mercy on a former HOA treasurer with a gambling addiction. As a condition of her probation, Spruitenburg must attend counseling. 

State: Former West Palm condo board misspent more than $1 million (FL)

LOCAL By Tony Doris – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

State regulators say former board members of the 20-building Whitehall condos on Village Boulevard misspent more than $1 million of their association’s money on themselves and shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars from reserves to cover budget shortfalls without authorization from unit owners, violations so serious that investigators forwarded evidence to state prosecutors.

Lead Investigator Harry Hague of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Bureau of Compliance wrote the current board of Whitehall Condominiums of the Villages of Palm Beach Lakes Association on Jan. 26 that the former board committed a series of “major” civil violations of state condo law.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also investigated and is awaiting word on whether the Office of Statewide Prosecution will bring criminal charges based on its findings, an FDLE official confirmed Thursday.

Read more:

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/state-former-west-palm-condo-board-misspent-more-than-million/XwUG5ilXp5ABSLOjRWcPwO/

See also:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/condo-state-prosecute-former-board-members-for-misspent-million/blU0Y9EZkJ0YZNDAQbut0O/

The accusations against three board members of Whitehall condos are quite egregious, including paying themselves handsome salaries, when they were supposed to be serving as uncompensated volunteer board members. FDLE seems to be taking their time investigating the misappropriation of at least $1 million. It amazes me how these former board members think they can get away with making ATM withdrawals from the condo association’s accounts at casinos.

Ex-property manager indicted in theft of $8K from Cobb HOA (GA)

Ben Brasch The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
11:41 a.m. Feb 7, 2017

A former property manager was recently indicted after police say she stole more than $8,000 from a Kennesaw homeowners association.

A grand jury handed down the decision Thursday for Wendy Teresa Robinson’s pair of theft charges.

During her few months between late 2015 and early 2016 with Legacy Park Homeowners Association, police allege she bilked the organization out of $8,458.

Source:

http://www.ajc.com/news/local/property-manager-indicted-theft-from-cobb-hoa/Yz9Eyh8uHpCNuIobUpnq7N/

After reading so many stories like this, I wonder why any HOA board would give a manager access to a credit card.

 

Trial for an alleged HOA embezzler delayed (CA)

February 11, 2017, 05:00 AM

Michael Medeiros, San Mateo Daily Journal
Trial for an alleged

HOA embezzler delayed

The trial was delayed Friday for a man accused of being a co-conspirator in an embezzlement case involving nearly $2.8 million from a San Mateo homeowners association, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Michael Anthony Medeiros is next expected to appear in court June 26. His defense attorney requested that the case be continued so he could provide defense for an upcoming murder trial in Alameda County and to allow for more time for an expert to analyze forensic evidence from computer hard drives related to the case, according to prosecutors.

Medeiros is accused of working with Susan Marie Lambert, 65, to embezzle millions of dollars from the massive condominium association between 2007 and 2013. Lambert was the manager of the HOA when she issued nearly 150 false invoices for property improvement work that was never done. Medeiros, then 58, owned a painting company and would cash checks and split the money with Lambert, according to prosecutors.

– See more at:

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2017-02-11/trial-for-an-alleged-hoa-embezzler-delayed/1776425175753.html#sthash.JhK3s0xe.dpuf

This case has had many delays. Now Prosecutors want to examine forensic evidence from computer hard drives. I still wonder how condo owners did not notice they were spending a fortune on painting that never got done. 

FORMER ITD OFFICIAL RESIGNS (Idaho)

February 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | By RYAN COLLINGWOOD Staff writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Facing felony theft and fraud charges, Idaho Transportation Department business manager Scott Fellom has resigned.

Fellom is accused of embezzling $13,363.85 in forged checks from the Sunset Ridge Homeowners Association in Post Falls. He was the treasurer of Sun Ridge, which overlooks Columbine Court and Yarrow Court near Chase Road and Poleline Avenue.

Fellom resigned Feb. 11, an ITD spokesperson confirmed.

ITD said it was initially aware of the situation, putting Fellom on unpaid administrative leave in January, pending the outcome of the case.

Read more:

http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com/local_news/20170226/former_itd_official_resigns

This isn’t the first report of alleged theft by an HOA board member also employed by state government. And, as it turns out, Fellom apparently cheated on his federal income taxes, too. 


CALIFORNIA – Property Manager and Firm Charged with Defrauding Homeowners’ Association of $247,000

U.S. Dept. of Justice, Southern District of California

SAN DIEGO – Property manager Robert Walsh and his firm, Cornerstone Management Professionals, were charged with four counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud a homeowners’ association of $247,000. Walsh made his first appearance in court today.

The indictment alleges that Cornerstone and Walsh falsely represented that Cornerstone could properly submit bids to the homeowners’ association for construction projects, and in submitting such bids, the defendants concealed the lower bids to make it appear as if Cornerstone was the low bidder in order to be awarded the projects. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $247,000 of illegal proceeds.

Read more:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/property-manager-and-firm-charged-defrauding-homeowners-association-247000

According to the indictment, Walsh discovered asbestos while working on a project for the HOA, and added the cost of abatement to the contract. But instead of abating the asbestos, the HOA alleges Walsh ordered the contractors to cover it up and finish the project, so he could pocket the additional money. 

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One Reply to “HOA, Condo Fraud, Theft, Embezzlement Roundup (Feb. 2017)”

  1. These published reports of cases of fraud, embezzlement, income tax evasion, etc. are probably only the tip of the ice berg. Thanks for reporting on them. To assist owners in identifying and reporting such illegal activities in their own communities, it would be helpful to understand the roles of victim owners in these reported cases. Who first discovered the alleged criminal activity and how? To whom was the allegation reported and how? What whistleblower protections are there to encourage victim owners to get involved? What red flags should potential victim owners look for in monitoring the goings on in their own communities? Please continue to report on such cases that are publicized.

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