HOA, Condo, co-op corruption, fraud, theft roundup (Aug 2017)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

 

Money in the form of many large bills

Prosecutor: Hasbrouck Heights Property Manager Stole $100G From Condo Group (NJ)

Jerry DeMarco

Hasbrouck Heights Patch

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ — A borough man has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from a Bergen County condominium association.

Raymond Gonzalez, 62, was charged with theft and two counts of forgery, Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal announced Wednesday.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office received a complaint in March 2016 that Gonzalez, the owner and operator of RPM Management, had accessed and stole money from the association, Grewal said in a news release.

Detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit discovered that from 2011 to 2016 had access to credit account opened for the association, Grewal said.

Read more:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/hasbrouck-heights-man-embezzled-more-100k-condo-association-prosecutor

When a NJ condo association gave the manager access to its credit accounts, the money started to disappear. It always amazes me how these alleged thefts carry on for several years before anyone on the board catches on. 

 

Aventura property manager accused of stealing money from cash vending machine (FL)
Donovan Staley, 33, also schemed to defraud owner of Safety Electric, police say

By Amanda Batchelor – Senior Digital Editor
Posted: 4:09 PM, August 23, 2017
Updated: 4:09 PM, August 23, 2017

AVENTURA, Fla. – A property manager for a condominium building in Aventura was arrested Tuesday for stealing money from a cash vending machine in a laundry room and for attempting to defraud the owner of Safety Electric, authorities said.

According to an arrest report, the owner was contacted by the Admiral Port’s building engineer to repair an emergency electrical situation.

Read more:

https://www.local10.com/news/crime/aventura-property-manager-accused-of-stealing-money-from-cash-vending-machine

This is one of those rare cases where a condo manager and a service vendor for the association were actually caught in a kickback scheme. The article is a bit unclear, but it appears the owner of Safety Electric blew the whistle on Mr. Staley. 

 

Agent Accused of Affordable Housing Fraud (CA)

August 23, 2017

Back in 2008, a local real estate agent purchased a below market rate (BMR) one-bedroom condo on the eighth floor of the newly built SoMa Grand for $221,698.

As part of the purchase agreement for the affordable unit, the agent signed an affidavit affirming that he would occupy unit #812 as a principal place of residence and acknowledged that “BMR units are to be owner-occupied and never used as investment or rental property” per the terms of the affordable housing program.

But according to another housing related lawsuit filed by San Francisco’s City Attorney this morning, the agent, Gregory Garver, had rented the unit to a tenant from 2012 through mid-2016 for $2,400 a month.

Read more:

http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2017/08/real-estate-agent-accused-of-affordable-housing-fraud.html

Many expensive cities in the U.S. now require developers to set aside a few units in every condo (or apartment) project for meeting affordable housing goals. These policies serve only a fraction of the actual need for affordable housing. That’s what makes this report particularly maddening. A real estate agent allegedly took advantage of his license and inside knowledge to pose as the owner-occupant of an affordable condo. Then, after he owned the unit, he rented it out at market rates to tenants, and, more recently, has attempted to sell the unit at a tidy profit. 

Cops: Condo worker stole $20,000 worth of items (FL)

Thursday, August 17th 2017, 10:25 am EDT
Thursday, August 17th 2017, 10:51 am EDT

When a Singer Island man returned home after a month of traveling, he said he noticed many things missing but no signs anyone forcefully broke into his condo.

Police tracked the man’s gold bracelet engraved with his name on it and discovered Steven Kos pawned it, according to a Riviera Beach Police arrest report.

Kos is an employee at East Pointe Condominiums in the maintenance department, the condo association’s manager said.

A detective checked the names of employees at East Pointe with access to keys for the condos into a pawn database. When the detective searched Kos’s name, he said he saw Kos pawned several items matching the description of items reported stolen by the victim.

Police say the bracelet, worth $5,000, was pawned for $1,365. They believe Kos also pawned the man’s 18k gold platinum ring, worth $1,700, for $150.

Read more:

http://www.wflx.com/story/36157677/cops-condo-worker-stole-20000-worth-of-items

 A condo is carefree living, right? Just lock and go. No worries. Or…maybe not. In this case, an employee of a Florida condominium with access to keys, allegedly let himself into a condo when the unit owner was out of town,  then stole several valuable items and sold them to local pawn shops. Makes you wonder if the condo board (or manager) conducts background checks for their hired help. 

Fort Collins accountant sentenced for felony theft (CO)

Sarah Jane Kyle, sarahkyle@coloradoan.com Published 12:46 p.m. MT Aug. 17, 2017 | Updated 1:37 p.m. MT Aug. 17, 2017

A Fort Collins accountant who pleaded guilty to felony theft in June was sentenced to community service and probation this week.

Meredith Kanter, also known as Molly Hoff, pleaded guilty to felony theft in June after two criminal cases alleged she stole money from a Fort Collins nonprofit and a condo association.

In addition to paying restitution to both clients, Kanter was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and three years of supervised probation for both cases.

n June, Kanter pleaded guilty to an amended count of theft, a Class 4 felony, in a case alleging she wrote herself five fraudulent checks from Windtrail Park Condo Association in 2016. According to Kanter’s arrest affidavit, issued Dec. 20, Kanter’s business was contracted for the association’s bookkeeping services at the time and had been since April 2013.

Read more (Video):

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2017/08/17/fort-collins-accountant-sentenced-felony-theft/577156001/

A former bookkeeper for a condo association admitted to writing more than $6,000 in fraudulent checks to herself. The condo association ordered an audit when they learned Meredith Kanter (aka Molly Huff) was facing charges for stealing from a local nonprofit. But if the condo association had not done the audit, there’s no telling how much more money would have gone missing before it was discovered. Another report that proves the cost of an annual audit is money well spent. 

Man who bought HOA-foreclosed homes faces federal fraud charges (NC)

Posted 2:18 p.m. today
Updated 7:17 p.m. today

WRAL

RALEIGH, N.C. — A Wake Forest man made more than $1 million by swooping down on homes in foreclosure and using an intricate shell game involving fraud, forgery and offshore companies, according to federal authorities.

Xavier Milton Earquhart faces 14 counts of bank fraud, five counts of engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property and one count of aggravated identity theft. He is being held without bond in the Harnett County jail.

Read more (Video):

http://www.wral.com/man-who-bought-hoa-foreclosed-homes-faces-federal-fraud-charges/16855812/

It took three years, but federal investigators finally collected enough evidence to arrest Earquhart on multiple counts of fraud. They say he purchased titles to homes in HOA foreclosure, then filed fraudulent paperwork stating that mortgages were paid in full, when, in fact, they were not. However, the false paperwork was enough to fool mortgage banks into lending him more than $1 million dollars. The HOAs sold the properties for mere pennies on the dollar, but Earquhart was able to obtain sizable loans based on the market value of the homes. In the end, the rightful owners of these homes were kicked to the curb for small sums, all to support a complex scheme to defraud banks. 

 

I-Team: Dozens of renters of HOA foreclosure properties evicted amid dispute over title ownership (FL)
Properties bring in huge profits with low costs

Adam Walser
11:24 PM, Jul 28, 2017
1:23 AM, Jul 29, 2017

TAMPA – In Florida, homeowners’ associations can foreclose on homes when owners don’t pay their dues…sometimes for as little as a few thousand dollars.

Investors who buy the liens get temporary titles and can rent those houses until banks foreclose.

But as the I-Team discovered, leasing these properties can pose plenty of potential problems for renters.

“It was a little over 1300 square feet. There’s a half bath on the bottom floor and two full baths on the main,” said Chelcie Miller, describing her former Carrollwood Rental townhome.

“We came over, looked at the house and fell in love with it,” said Jorge Taveras, describing the house he rented in Riverview.

But what started out as dream homes, eventually became nightmares.

Read more (Video):

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/i-team-dozens-of-renters-of-hoa-foreclosure-properties-evicted-amid-dispute-over-title-ownership

Another cautionary report for tenants. Beware of landlords like convicted felon Barry Haught. Haught and a former business partner purchased more than 100 homes at HOA foreclosures for very little money. Then they turned around and leased those homes to tenants, failing to disclose that the homes were also subject to bank foreclosure. When a bank forecloses, tenants are forced to vacate the home on short notice, within 30 days. When  Haught and his business associate stopped working together, titles were transferred to Haught, who demanded a new lease from tenants who were already paying rent according to the former lease. In short, it is a terrible mess for unsuspecting tenants. 

Former property manager gets jail time for Collingwood condo fraud (Ontario, Canada)
‘This is pure greed,’ says Justice Nancy Dawson

NEWS Aug 15, 2017 by John Edwards Collingwood Connection

A Springwater woman was sentence to about four-and-a-half years in jail for defrauding condominium corporations in The Blue Mountains, Barrie and Collingwood of more than $909,000.

On Monday, Justice Nancy Dawson sentenced Springwater Township native Rhonda McCarthy to 30 months for 18 counts of fraud over $5,000 and two years less a day for two counts of fraud under $5,000.

She was also given six years probation, ordered to pay restitution and a fine of about $909,000. McCarthy will also have to have pay a victim surcharge of $3,600 and will have six years to pay both this and the fine. She will not be allowed to work in a position where she is in control of money.

Read more:

https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/7502109-former-property-manager-gets-jail-time-for-collingwood-condo-fraud/

Rhonda McCarthy was an employee of Illustrious Property Management for more than two decades. She was convicted in Ontario for stealing more than $900,000. For that methodical and heinous crime, McCarthy will serve up to 4 1/2 years in prison, 6 years on probation, and pay fines in addition to restitution. She covered up her crimes for years by shuffling money between dozens of her condo accounts. 

Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders (FL)

By Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent Published: August 22, 2017
CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an “unscrupulous” and “conniving” scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

His ruling means that the owners of Orlando Realty Group will get back the money they bid on what turned out to be a second mortgage held by a company connected to Clearwater attorney Roy Skelton. Only later did the bidders discover that a different lender had a superior first mortgage and could soon foreclose, leaving them with no condo and out nearly a half million dollars.

While he rapped Orlando Realty for not doing sufficient due diligence before bidding, St. Arnold had especially harsh words for Skelton.

“Clearly you set a trap for unwary buyers,” the judge said.

Read more:

http://www.tbo.com/news/business/realestate/judge-throws-out-458000-condo-sale-says-clearwater-attorney-tricked-bidders/2334631

This is a case of two opportunistic investors hoping to make a fortune on someone else’s misfortune. Once again, it involved HOA foreclosures in Florida. This time, a judge threw out a sale that involved a make-believe second mortgage default and an undisclosed first mortgage in foreclosure. You have to read the details to believe it. 

 


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