HOA, condo & co-op fraud and corruption roundup (Feb. 2020)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


This month’s roundup: Florida Jury convicts former HOA treasurer of grand theft;  several cases of embezzlement and theft charges filed against former condo HOA managers and staff members; a billionaire developer is arrested for filing fraudulent property liens.



Former manager, admin assistant, accused of thefts following board recall

Two former employees of Lake Lindero Homeowners Association face criminal charges, following separate incidents.

Until recently, Chris Barone was the chief executive of the golf course, lake, and swimming pool serving Lake Lindero HOA members.

Shortly after an HOA board recall in December, and after his management services were terminated, Barone allegedly transferred $230,000 to a Chase bank account, in an attempt to remain in control of the club.

It seems the outgoing board of directors is challenging the result of the December recall vote, even though the recall election was monitored by a neutral third party (League of Women Voters).

Nothing new in HOA-ville, USA.

Responding to a complaint filed by the Lindero Lake’s new board, Lost Hill Sheriff department investigated Barone’s unauthorized withdrawal from the HOA’s bank account.

As a result, the money has reportedly been returned to the HOA. But that’s not the end of the story.

Two more sheriff investigations

Due to Barone’s history of assault at Lake Lindero, a restraining order now prohibits him from setting foot on the property. However, the Sheriff recently arrested Barone for violating that order.

Meanwhile, last month, former administrative assistant Judee White entered the Lindero tennis and swim club, demanding money. When the club employee on staff at the time refused to comply, White allegedly grabbed the cash drawer and took off in her vehicle.

The Sheriff is investigating the incident.

Conflict within the Lindero community goes back to 2017 and 2018, when homeowners were blindsided by an emergency assessment to repair a broken dam and sluice gate on their lake. Homeowners protested the $675 per unit assessment and demanded a change in management.

Ironically, in 2018, when Barone was newly elected to the HOA board, the group decided to sue the club’s manager at the time, David Smith of GPL.

Smith had managed the club for 25 years, and, at first, he refused to go. Smith is also suing the HOA, claiming breach of contract.


HOA looks at bank theft, employee fraud
Illegal funds transfer alleged
The Acorn | February 13, 2020

Lake Lindero leadership fight comes to a head
The Acorn| January 13, 2020
By John Loesing

Sides squabble at Lake Lindero HOA
Protest erupts, board and management company at impasse | August 02, 2018By Stephanie Bertholdo



This month, the Sunshine State is Ground Zero for fraud and corruption!

Former Fort Myers HOA treasurer convicted of felony grand theft

A Lee County jury recently convicted Jonathan Mariotti, a former treasurer of  his Fort Myers HOA, of first degree felony grand theft. Mariotti was found guilty of transferring more than $185,000 of HOA funds to his personal business account, over the course of ten years.

Mariotti’s business later became successful, and he made regular bank transfers to the HOA’s account. In total, Mariotti resportedly repaid nearly $142,000 to the HOA, leaving an outstanding balance of $43,000.

In essence, until Mariotti got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he used the HOA’s money to “lend” him interest-free money to operate his business.


Fort Myers man found guilty of felony grand theft; stole funds from homeowners group
Michael Braun, The News-Press | Published 12:50 p.m. ET Feb. 25, 2020



Infamous billionaire Glenn Straub accused of filing fake liens against property owned by ex-girlfriend

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBCSO) has charged Glenn Straub with one count of grand theft larceny of less than $100K and two counts of filing fraudulent liens.

According to two reports, Straub has a long, sordid history of speculating in high end real estate, often allowing the properties to languish in a state of neglect. He also has a history of stormy relationships with several young women.

One of his ex-girlfriends, Jessica Nicodemo, accuses Straub of gifting her with extensive home renovations, only to retaliate against her after she chose to break up with him.

PBCSO gathered convincing evidence, including cell phone records, that show Straub placed liens on two of Nicodemo’s properties. Nicodemo says the fraudulent liens make it difficult for her to sell and move away from Straub, so she can move on with her life.

If convicted, Straub could face up to 15 years behind bars.


Palm Beach County Developer Arrested For Using Liens To Retaliate Against Ex-Girlfriend
January 22, 2020 Deirdra Funcheon, Bisnow South Florida

Wellington developer Glenn Straub charged, faces 15 years



Former resort HOA bookkeeper arrested for embezzlement of $400K

After a long investigation, including an extensive forensic audit, Bay County Sheriff’s Office have filed first-degree felony charges against Cynthia Hayes, for alleged thefts going back to 2012.

Hayes is the former bookkeeper for The Horizon South Condominiums Homeowners Association, a Florida Panhandle resort property. She is accused of embezzling $400,000, and using the money for personal living expenses.

Auditors have reportedly discovered numerous fraudulent transactions involving bank transfers, loans, and credit card purchases.

If convicted, Hayes could face up to 30 years in prison.


By: Kayla Tucker, 13 ABC
Posted: Jan 31, 2020 / 03:18 PM CST / Updated: Jan 31, 2020 / 07:32 PM CST


Rhode Island

State Police arrest two former employees for $66K fraud against condo association

A State Police investigation into a complaint filed by Bonniecrest Condominium Association has resulted in the arrest of two of its former employees.

Christine and Roger Tellefsen, both of Portsmouth, are accused of defrauding the condo association by overpaying themselves $66,402.

Christine is a former administrative assistant and office manager for Bonniecrest. Part of Christine’s duties included managing staff payroll for Bonniecrest.

During her employment, Roger Tellefsen was hired as a maintenance worker at the community. Christine allegedly paid Roger double his hourly pay rate, without approval from the condo board.

Christine Tellefsen denies the charges, claiming that the condo board properly approved all payroll disbursements. A hearing is scheduled for March.


Portsmouth couple charged with defrauding condo association
By Sean Flynn
Daily News staff writer | Newport Daily News | Posted Feb 14, 2020 at 5:43 PM ♦


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