By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
This month’s roundup includes dishonest board members of association-governed communities, a developer previously sanctioned for fraudulent activity, and HOA foreclosure fraud.
Former HOA treasurer pleads guilty to theft
Accused condo embezzler’s case continued
DANIELSON — A Woodstock man accused of embezzling more than $130,000 while serving as treasurer of a condominium association made a brief appearance in criminal court on Wednesday as the repercussions from a civil case continue.
Derek Jette, 37, of 81 Underwood Road, did not enter a plea inside Danielson Superior Court where his first-degree larceny case was continued until May 29. Jette’s lawyer, Christian Sarantopoulos, said he is still in the discovery/collection phase of his investigation.
Jette, who is free on a $300,000 bond, was charged in March after a month-long investigation into discrepancies in the accounts of the Fawn Ridge Condominium Association, according to an arrest warrant application.
Police said Dennis Champney, the recently appointed president of the association, approached police March 3 and accused Jette of embezzling condo funds for the last five years. He said $137,531 was discovered missing after he began investigating high arsenic levels in the complex’s water system.
Jette has admitted using the condo association’s debit card for personal use. The association previously sued Jette in civil court, and, last November, the defendant was ordered to repay $158,039. None of the money has been repaid, so the association is now seeking wage garnishment. In the meantime, the criminal investigation continues.
The condo association needs repairs to its water filtration system, to remove contamination from arsenic, but they lack the funds, due to the alleged embezzlement.
Bethpage developer fined $166G over filings for condo projects
The state AG’s office ordered payments from Anthony Galeotafiore, citing his failure to disclose his role in negotiating mortgage loans and omitting information on developments in Copiague, Westbury and Islip Terrace.
The state Office of the Attorney General has fined a Bethpage developer $141,000 and ordered him to pay $25,000 in restitution over information omitted from state filings on condominium developments in Copiague, Westbury and Islip Terrace.
Anthony Galeotafiore, president of AJG Capital of Bethpage, was ordered to pay the fines as part of the “Assurance of Discontinuance” issued Jan. 30 by the attorney general’s office.
Galeotafiore did not respond to requests for comment. According to the assurance obtained by Newsday, he “admits to the OAG’s Findings.”
The violations stem from Galeotafiore’s offering plans or broker-dealer registration statements submitted to the state in connection with four developments built on Long Island in recent years or currently under construction:
A developer of several small condominium housing projects admits to misrepresenting his role in building, selling, and financing the homes on Long Island. The fine and restitution imposed by New York State Office of Attorney General pale by comparison to undisclosed fees collected by Galeotafiore. The OAG investigation also uncovered the developer’s prior history of fraudulent activity.
Rowland Pal Robert Matthews Pleads Not Guilty To Florida Real Estate Fraud
Developer Robert V. Matthews, whose real estate career has bumped against law enforcement in the past, pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to fraud and conspiracy charges associated with his latest undertaking, a Palm Beach resort that prosecutors said he used to swindle millions of dollars from investors.
Matthews’ associate, attorney Leslie R. Evans, also pleaded not guilty to similar charges. Both were arrested a month ago at their Palm Beach homes and face decades in prison if convicted of charges in a 20-count indictment accusing them of stealing tens of millions from foreign investors hoping to obtain U.S. visas under a government program that rewards foreign investment in job-creating real estate projects.
Four natives of Connecticut apparently “retired” to Florida to conduct real estate fraud schemes in the Sunshine State. They lured international buyers with the promise of EB-5 Visas for investing in a U.S. business, in this case, renovating an old hotel in South Florida. But then, according to criminal complaints, the fraudsters took the money and spent it on themselves. Matthews has already been convicted of fraud in Connecticut, back in the 1990s.
HOA embezzler’s trial to begin
The trial for a man accused of scheming to embezzle nearly $2.8 million from the San Mateo Woodlake Condominium Association between 2007 and 2013 is set to begin Wednesday, more than five years after he and a co-conspirator were initially accused of the scheme, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Michael Medeiros, 61, is expected to be in trial for an estimated two weeks and his alleged co-conspirator and former manager of the HOA, Susan Marie Lambert, 67, will testify, according to prosecutors.
The wheels of justice turn very, very slowly. It has taken five years just to bring a second alleged embezzler to trial. Medeiros owned a painting business, and his accomplice, Susan Marie Lambert was the community manager for Woodlake Condominium Association, when the pair allegedly conspired to defraud the association of $2.8 million for bogus painting contracts.
Olathe HOA’s ‘significant shortfall of money’ could end up costing homeowners
April 13, 2018 12:57 PM
Updated April 13, 2018 02:54 PM
An Olathe HOA has filed a police report and called a special meeting to discuss concerns about its former property manager that it says in a related lawsuit could cause “irreparable harm” to the neighborhood.
Parkhill Manor Homes Association said in the lawsuit that Jonathan Young and his company, Haven Property Management, have “failed and refused to deliver plaintiff’s corporate books and records and bank accounts.”
The HOA notified homeowners of the problem in a letter sent last week.
Jonathan Young, a former board member and association manager for Park Hill Manor HOA is under investigation for possible mishandling of Parkhill Manor’s money. Another homeowner, Scott Wircenske, sounded the alarms about Young a few years ago, when the HOA board awarded a management contract to his company, Haven Property Management. The HOA dismissed Wircenske’s concerns at the time, and refused to provide access to financial records of the association, leading to litigation and a settlement last year.
Since some of the records have been released, it has been discovered that quite a bit of money is missing from the HOA’s account. Haven Property Management was then dismissed and replaced by a new management company. But Young has not handed over the records to the HOA.
Now the HOA board is acknowledging there’s a problem, a civil suit, and a criminal investigation into Young and his management company.
Man convicted of fraud in HOA-foreclosure home-buying scheme
Posted 3:52 p.m. yesterday
Updated 6:40 p.m. yesterday
By Cullen Browder, WRAL anchor/reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal jury on Thursday convicted a Wake Forest man charged with fraudulently scooping up homes in foreclosure.
Xavier Milton Earquhart, who has been the subject of a WRAL News investigation for four years, was found guilty of a dozen counts related to bank and mortgage fraud. He will be sentenced in July.
Federal court records show that Earquhart illegally purchased homes at eight HOA foreclosures, falsified records to make it appear mortgages were paid in full, and then immediately resold the properties and fled with the money.
Arrested in 2014, on a tip from neighbors who were alarmed that an unknown man was drilling locks and breaking into an abandoned house, Earquhart was reportedly uncooperative at his own trial. He will be sentenced in July. In the meantime, $1 million of his assets have been seized.
2 thoughts on “HOA, condo, & co-op fraud, theft, & corruption roundup (April 2018)”
Legislative relief is sorely needed, yes. The most important feature of housing consumer protection legislation, or protection of individual rights is practical and meaningful enforcement of the law.
Too often, state legislation offers weak regulation and little real protection against self-interested, dictatorial, or corrupt developers, volunteer-led boards, community managers, and HOA attorneys.
Legislators settle for “window dressing” statutes that provide an illusion of reining in abuse of power, when, in practice, laws and regulatory agencies are either no help at all, or do more harm than good.
Everyday life living in an HOA, and/or nested HOAs. Bad behavior and corruption abounds at the hands of…our neighbors. We need legislative relief.
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