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Treasurer questioned in theft of thousands from Evans homeowners association

Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 11:24 AM
Last updated 11:27 PM
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Authorities are investigating the treasurer of Stratford Community Association in connection with the theft of nearly $200,000 from the Evans homeowners association bank account.

Laurie Wainwright Vanover is cooperating with Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigators, and charges against her are pending, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said Thursday.

Vanover, a real estate agent, also was a member of the board of directors of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thomas Gorta, the president of the homeowners association, told investigators Dec. 19 that he discovered more than $192,000 to be missing from the account, according to a sheriff’s office incident report.

Morris said Wednesday that investigators are reviewing all financial records connected with the homeowners association.

Gorta said he was advised not to speak publicly about the incident Wednesday and wouldn’t comment further.

He told authorities that unauthorized transactions were first made on the account on Nov. 5, 2008.

Transactions totaling $192,018 occurred through Dec. 19.

An estimated $78,497 was used for credit purchases, and $113,521 was withdrawn from ATMs, according to the report.

Vanover is the only person with access to the transaction cards and checks for the accounts, it was reported.

Gorta said the subdivision off Hardy McManus Road has 491 homes.

The homeowners association is responsible for maintenance of a community pool and common areas including an activity field and greenspace park.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Riverman1
93574
Points
Riverman1 01/03/13 - 11:47 am
5
3
I thought there was nothing

I thought there was nothing wrong if you borrowed a little change now and then.

Young Fred
20968
Points
Young Fred 01/03/13 - 11:49 am
7
0
I've seen such as this

I've seen such as this countless times.

Unfortunately, in way too many circumstances the victims don't wish to prosecute. Negative publicity being the prevalent excuse.

Mr. Thackeray
957
Points
Mr. Thackeray 01/03/13 - 12:03 pm
7
0
Was there no oversight? This

Was there no oversight? This should have been caught LONG ago!

itsanotherday1
48290
Points
itsanotherday1 01/03/13 - 12:06 pm
7
0
We only got hooked for about

We only got hooked for about $50K in my old neighborhood. It was repaid.

agrit
180
Points
agrit 01/03/13 - 12:11 pm
7
0
Well ...

You never let just one person have access to "transaction cards" and checks without another signature. Why don't groups have their books audited once a year? Or if not that, do treasurers not have to give reports and balances ? I don't understand how that kind of money could disappear and someone else not know it.

my.voice
5167
Points
my.voice 01/03/13 - 12:14 pm
7
0
Why doesn't anyone listen?

Why doesn't anyone listen? REQUIRE two or more signatures on ANYTHING that's being paid, redeemed, etc. Will it prevent thievery altogether? No, but it would have prevented this. Heck, the damn bank should require that their selves!

bdouglas
5777
Points
bdouglas 01/03/13 - 12:47 pm
5
0
It still baffles me how this

It still baffles me how this happened. Started 4 years ago and no one noticed nearly $200,000 missing? Our HOA only has one public meeting a year, but they show expenditures, income and balances at every one of those. She had to have been fudging with the books, too, to keep this from being noticed for that long.

Little Lamb
48976
Points
Little Lamb 01/03/13 - 02:32 pm
7
2
How much is enough?

Early in Obama's first term he made a statement to the effect that at some point wealthy people needed to admit that they had enough money.

Where is the point where these homeowner associations begin to realize that they've got enough in the bank and they can cut back on dues?

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 01/03/13 - 02:53 pm
8
0
I Do Find It Strange
Unpublished

I do find it strange that the homeowners have not ever asked "How much money do we have?", or "Where is all of our money going?". I guess as long as the common areas look good, and the pool opened on time, ignorance is bliss. But, this not the first time this has ever happened, and it probably won't be the last either. Remember Windmill Plantation. There was also another one, but I can't seem to remember the subdivision. Guess there will be another bookings photo to look @, next week.

Sceptic
4
Points
Sceptic 01/03/13 - 07:54 pm
0
0
Stratford residents did ask
Unpublished

Stratford residents did ask questions, but they didn't get truthful and accurate answers. A large part of the problem was an association CEO with a "my way or the highway" approach to management. In my opinion, he is far more interested in exercising authority over his "subjects" than he is interested in becoming involved in the less dramatic aspects of managing the everyday details of the association. There was no oversight of the finances, no system of checks and balances and annual audits of the treasury were conducted by the treasurer. The balance sheet didn't match the bank account and no one noticed until a check bounced.
In a neighborhood association, good volunteer help is hard to find. It's even harder when the top dog is an Alpha male with a short attention span, abrasive personality and a natural aversion for following established policy.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
Points
shrimp for breakfast 01/04/13 - 04:50 am
4
0
Criminal who needs to do some time

I think that anyone who being trusted with the money of many and takes said money deserves some pretty stiff punishment. Unless she repays every cent then I believe some retrebution is in order.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 01/04/13 - 08:07 am
2
1
If $200k goes missing and

If $200k goes missing and none of the functions covered by the HOA went lacking, wouldn't that mean that the fees are way too high?

soapy_725
44111
Points
soapy_725 01/04/13 - 08:18 am
1
0
HOA's are for the developers/realtors.
Unpublished

Only those things that affect SALES and MARKETING are addressed. Once the SALES are complete, you are own your own. But the money will still be assessed. Riverwood picks and chooses what they enforce and who complies. And all do not pay. And keep your mouth shut at the annual meeting.

soapy_725
44111
Points
soapy_725 01/04/13 - 08:21 am
0
0
Check out the CC website for info on
Unpublished

the property title changes for "lawsuit/bankruptcy" for Ms. Vanover.

soapy_725
44111
Points
soapy_725 01/04/13 - 08:22 am
0
0
shrimp 415am
Unpublished

that applies to most if not all of our politicians.

justthefacts
25016
Points
justthefacts 01/04/13 - 08:50 am
0
0
No

Money has to be accrued for major expenses such as road paving, expansion of pool, tennis, clubhouses and such.

soapy_725
44111
Points
soapy_725 01/04/13 - 08:57 am
0
0
Road paving? County roads?
Unpublished

If not county roads, then whose roads? How do the police enforce traffic laws. Maybe they don't? This brings up a whole new can of worms. County roads being maintained by private citizens? So as a homeowner, that is my street in front of my house. If I do not want a car parked on "my street", I can call the police.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/04/13 - 09:17 am
0
0
You forgot sticky fingers

You forgot sticky fingers JTF, gotta feed the monkey

justthefacts
25016
Points
justthefacts 01/04/13 - 09:48 am
1
0
Cynical

Sure, dishonest people everywhere. But, there are millions of HOAs. Most don't have this problem. As many posters above have said, you need audits regularly.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 01/04/13 - 09:49 am
2
1
All the article said was "

All the article said was " The homeowners association is responsible for maintenance of a community pool and common areas including an activity field and greenspace park." Are the roads private? It seems like an awful lot for a pool, park, and greenspace. Unless they have a whole lot of other common areas. Maybe the entrance, but it's not condos so the homeowners would be responsible for a lot of the upkeep on their own. It didn't mention a clubhouse, but even if they had one, that's still a whole lot to be siphoned off to still pay expenses and continue with the upkeep. I can see a small amount for emergncies, but other than that, it seems like the account should roughly zero out every month. Granted, I've never lived any place that had an HOA (Perish the thought for a country boy. Give me land, lot's of land,.....) so I never had to pay them. It just seems like common sense to almost clear it out monthly and have some in a special account for emergencies.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 01/04/13 - 09:51 am
1
1
I sit in an historical board.

I sit in an historical board. We have the 2 signature thing in place. That should be a given.

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