Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Boonsboro, MD, woman sentenced for stealing HOA funds

Local News - AM 930 WFMD Online:
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."

At Least 17 Waterville Valley Condo Groups Missing Funds | LoanSafe

At Least 17 Waterville Valley Condo Groups Missing Funds | LoanSafe: (Source: By Dave Solomon, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester (MCT) WATERVILLE VALLEY —
At least 17 different condominium associations in the Waterville Valley area reported missing funds to local police last week, triggering a weekend search of the condo management company offices and an investigation that is likely to be turned over to the county attorney or attorney general for prosecution.

Waterville Valley Chief of Police David C. Noyes said the amount reported missing is “at least” in the tens of thousands of dollars. A search warrant was executed Saturday and Sunday, he said, at the offices of Stone Property Management, 35 Tecumseh Road.

“They do business with 28 different associations in town,” Noyes said. “Seventeen have come forward so far and made complaints.”
Oops. Yet another one of those isolated instances. Nothing to see here--move along.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Party Rock Anthem' Halloween house shut down by HOA | MNN - Mother Nature Network

'Party Rock Anthem' Halloween house shut down by HOA | MNN - Mother Nature Network:
"Late last week, it occurred to me that Kevin Judd, the mastermind behind a series of absolutely bananas synchronized light shows at/on his Riverside, Calif. home over the past several years, has been awfully quiet as of late."
Guess why?  His HOA.


Monday, October 22, 2012

HOA fee issue likely headed back to Nevada Supreme Court - VEGAS INC

HOA fee issue likely headed back to Nevada Supreme Court - VEGAS INC
This is from October 9. It seems that the legal challenges to HOA fees and fines has been underway for some time.  Investor owners (and now the Bank of America) are challenging the practices that lawyers for HOAs and condo associations have been using agains individual owners, who are unable to fight back properly.  Reporter Steve Green has been writing about it on Vegas, Inc.:

"The investors, represented by Las Vegas attorneys James Adams and Puoy Premsrirut, in recent years have sued hundreds of Nevada HOAs and their collection agencies in state and federal court and before the state Real Estate Division. The investors’ attorneys claim HOAs and their collection agencies regularly file inflated liens against foreclosed homes to recover not just excessive past-due monthly HOA assessments that accumulate while the homes sit vacant, but unauthorized collection costs for those assessments as well. The liens must be paid off for the investors and other buyers to obtain titles to the homes. The investors claim state law and sometimes HOA governing documents limit the liens to an amount equaling six or nine months of assessments depending on the circumstances."

B of A sues 28 Nevada HOAs, collection agencies in lien dispute - VEGAS INC

B of A sues 28 Nevada HOAs, collection agencies in lien dispute - VEGAS INC
Here's another story on what could be a blockbuster lawsuit filed by Bank of America against 28 HOAs and other defendants.  I am looking for a copy of the complaint.

"The bank filed suit Tuesday in Clark County District Court charging that state law limits the ''super-priority" first-position liens that HOAs can place against homes to an amount equal to nine months of HOA assessments -- but that the HOAs are "improperly'' filing liens demanding payment of attorney's fees and collection costs on top of that.These liens typically cover unpaid HOA assessments that accumulate while homes in foreclosure sit vacant, as well as costs to collect those unpaid bills. Charges that the HOAs and their bill collectors have been inflating the liens are pending in numerous lawsuits, with many attorneys expecting the Nevada Supreme Court or the Legislature to ultimately decide what limits should be placed on the liens..."The court should issue a judicial declaration establishing an association's super-priority lien does not include attorney's fees or collection costs. Under the plain language of (state law), only nine months of regular, budgeted common assessments are included in the super-priority amount," the suit says."

Bank of America sues Nevada homeowner associations over excessive fees and fines -

Bank of America sues Nevada homeowner associations -
A North Las Vegas home that Realtor Ryan Melvin has been trying to short sell is a prime example of why Bank of America is suing HOAs across Nevada.

"This has the collection fees of almost $1500. The violations and fines of $14,500."

Almost $16,500. Mostly for fines over weeds, trash, and pine needles. All at a home that Melvin's clients moved out of and were trying to short sell with B of A.
Activists have been screaming about bogus fees and fines for decades, but they don't have the means to go to war over it. But now the nation's largest banks are major owners of HOA/condo units.  That means the lawyers and managers who have been the real powers in privatopia suddenly have to go up against the big dogs in the meat locker, instead of individual owners who can't afford a lawyer.   And that could lead to some major changes in the way associations do business.

Thanks to Rodney Gray for publicizing this story.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Suspect in Ky. HOA shooting: 'I had to kill them' - SFGate

Suspect in Ky. HOA shooting: 'I had to kill them' - SFGate:
That evening, Hindi said, he took a loaded gun and spare bullets to the meeting, but didn't shoot anyone immediately because he was waiting for an opportunity to address his issues with the homeowners' association.

Hindi said he felt ignored for about 30 minutes and wasn't given a chance to speak, so he took the gun from his brief case and set it in his lap.

"I stood up and shot Mr. Merritt that way. He was sitting," Hindi said. "And, then ... I turned to Mr. Fisher and shot him also. This is exactly what I had in mind ... If they were not going to talk like human beings, I was going to shoot them."
And now the prosecutors are deciding whether to seek the death penalty for what Hindi admits was a premeditated murder of two people.  Despite the fact that he has given a detailed confession, it is highly unlikely that he will be executed. Only one person has been involuntarily executed in Kentucky since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. The other two people who were executed volunteered to be put to death.