A woman who stole more than $137,000 from the Ballenger Creek Meadows Homeowners Association learned her fate on Tuesday. In Frederick County Circuit Court, Judge Ed Dwyer sentenced Nancy Walker, 63, to 15 years in jail, with all but 18-months suspended.
There have been so many of these HOA/condo embezzlement cases in recent years that I have lost count. This one features an unusual claim: she says she needed the money for what looks like one of those Nigerian 419 scams. If this story is true (and it appears to be), it underscores the central problem at the core of this institution: great responsibilities are placed in the hands of people who too often are unqualified (intellectually, morally, or in some other way) to do what is expected of them. Imagine having your money controlled by somebody who would fall for this:
"As the investigation continued, according to the facts of the case, detectives contacted Walker, who said in April, 2011, she met a man on the Internet named David Mancini from West Virginia. She never met him in person but spoke with him over the phone. Authorities say Mancini told her that he was in a South African hospital, and needed money for medical expenses. She provided him with $50,000 from her own funds, and borrowed $30,000 from her sister. In November, 2011, Mancini contacted her and said he needed money to get out of jail in South Africa. Throughout this whole period, Mancini promised he would pay her back...Investigators told Walker that the man they spoke with was an African male, not a Caucasian as the picture she had of him indicated. "She had been tricked," according to the facts of the case."