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Evans treasurer charged in missing $250,000

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 11:35 AM
Last updated 6:26 PM
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The former treasurer of an Evans neighborhood association has been charged with stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from the organization.

Vanover  Columbia County Jail photo
Columbia County Jail photo
Vanover

Laurie Wainwright Vanover, 45, of the 1400 block of Andover Court, was charged with multiple counts of financial transaction card fraud, computer theft, theft by taking and theft by conversion after turning herself in Tuesday morning at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, said Capt. Steve Morris.

 Vanover was released after posting a $40,400 bond, Morris said.

 Vanover, who cooperated in the investigation, is accused of stealing $267,663.08 from the Stratford Community Association between November 2008 and December 2012, while she served as treasurer of the organization, Morris said.

 Association President Tom Gorta first reported to police that funds were missing from the account on Dec. 19, and initially investigators estimated about $192,000 was missing from the neighborhood’s accounts.

 Gorta said he’s not surprised that the amount of money Vanover is accused of stealing is more than he originally identified.

 “It’s more, but it’s not that much more,” Gorta said. “When you think about how much she could have taken.”

 During the nearly five-month investigation that followed, with Vanover’s assistance, auditors were able to find $135,155.50 listed as stolen through checks Vanover wrote or converted to her use; $115,115.10 had been taken through computer transactions; and $17,352.48 was taken through financial transaction card fraud, much of it through ATM withdrawals.

 Vanover is a licensed real estate agent previously associated with various local agencies, but not currently employed. She previously served on the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, but was not reappointed in January when her term expired as the case was under investigation.

 The subdivision off Hardy McManus Road has 491 homes, Gorta has said. The association is responsible for maintenance of a community pool and common areas including an activity field and greenspace park.

 There’s nothing the homeowners association wasn’t able to do because of the missing money, Gorta said. The theft had a lesser effect because it was done over time as opposed to one lump sum stolen.

 “It hurts, don’t get me wrong,” Gorta said. “We’ll be fine. They (residents) just have to pay their dues.”

 Vanover’s arrest is the second major Columbia County arrest in recent months for similar charges.

 Charles Holtzclaw, 26, of Martinez, was charged under the Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in April for what investigators say was a scheme that stole more than $200,000 from his former employer, Howard Lumber Co. of Evans.

Holtzclaw currently is free on $25,000 bond. He is accused of brokering deals for building materials and keeping the payments, then covering the thefts by charging the materials to other accounts, Morris said.

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scoopdedoop64
2353
Points
scoopdedoop64 05/07/13 - 11:55 am
8
0
So Sad

Sad that the neighborhood lost money and trust in their association. Sad that a respectable woman will now spend years in jail away from family because of greed. So sad that this seems to be happening everywhere.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 05/07/13 - 12:01 pm
14
1
Sounds like the neighbors are
Unpublished

Sounds like the neighbors are paying too much in dues to begin with if everything is going to be "fine."

Little Lamb
43802
Points
Little Lamb 05/07/13 - 12:05 pm
9
0
Exorbitant Dues

The residents of this subdivision need to get their dues back in line with their expenses. They need to keep their budget tight (from a Merle Haggard song called A Working Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today). Sure, every organization needs a little cushion in a bank account, but this Stratford Assiciation was sitting on a slush fund.

Little Lamb
43802
Points
Little Lamb 05/07/13 - 12:06 pm
10
0
Hey

Palmetto and I were thinking alike.

my.voice
4643
Points
my.voice 05/07/13 - 12:47 pm
7
0
I wonder what her first

I wonder what her first purchase was?

HOA Advice:
REQUIRE multiple treasurers, multiple signatures on all checks, purchases, etc. A semi-annual audit is a great, cheap, idea. Every dime spent should be based on an approved PO. A small discretionary fund is fine for incidentals, but if you leave the gate open, well, you see what happens.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 05/07/13 - 12:50 pm
2
0
Yeah But...
Unpublished

The homeowner's Association has to accept some of this blame. Poor lack of controls, no annual audit, and single signature checking account. Bet all of these controls will be in place now, which is a good thing.

Darby
23492
Points
Darby 05/07/13 - 01:15 pm
8
0
Lotta that there "White Collar"

crime going on over there in Columbia county.

While over here we just beat people up with pipes or baseball bats and take their goodies.

KSL
120652
Points
KSL 05/07/13 - 01:42 pm
4
1
If you are going to be

If you are going to be handling large sums of money you have access to, you should be bonded. Perhaps she was, and that is why the HOA can handle the loss.

If convicted, that real estate license is going away. Wonder what caused her to do what she did. It was really stupid, and down right despicable.

GiantsAllDay
9037
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/07/13 - 01:46 pm
5
0
Scoop: years in jail? She

Scoop: years in jail? She will spend <6 months in jail and has a great chance of getting no jail time at all. She will cut a deal promising to pay the money back, do some community service and spend some time on probation.

Bodhisattva
5550
Points
Bodhisattva 05/07/13 - 03:47 pm
3
3
Man, I have to drive by and

Man, I have to drive by and see this pool, common area, and park. They must be something else. Almost $5,500 a month missing from the caretaking fund and nobody notices? That must be some kinda nice cement pond.

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 05/07/13 - 03:57 pm
5
0
I meant to post here, not on Newstimes...Ooops.

Seriously. What I read here is that they collect AT LEAST 62k more a year from the residents than anyone even notices is missing. That’s how much can be stolen a year and all the bills still get paid. The imperiousness of neighborhood associations is unbelievable. Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but it appears that this woman is guilty of stealing, but I'm not sure the association doesn't have a license to steal from what I read.

My back of the envelope figuring shows she walked off with approximately 54 hundred a month over 4 years and a month. Really? And yet the Association Prez says, "There’s nothing the homeowners association wasn’t able to do because of the missing money". Read that... "We are fat with cash, thanks to the 491 suckers who don't come to the homeowners association meeting, serve on the board or otherwise do anything except blindly write us a check. Thanks!"

“It’s more, but it’s not that much more,” Gorta said. “When you think about how much she could have taken.”
Really? How much more could she have gotten than 267k? Your original estimate was only off by 75 thousand. Chicken feed on Hardy McManus I guess.

If I lived there I would want to know why in the world she was the treasurer for more than 2 years. Nobody should be the President, VP, or Treasurer of an Association for more than 2 years. It invites a sense of entitlement; that you are king, not servant. Wow.

I get it; you have to save for that major pool maintenance, but wow. I think ya'll are being gouged in your neighborhood and I don't mean by the former treasurer.

David Parker
7919
Points
David Parker 05/07/13 - 04:13 pm
3
0
Hand meet forehead!!!

Uhhh, ever hear of a "paper-trail"?

Dixieman
12746
Points
Dixieman 05/07/13 - 04:31 pm
4
0
Now Dixieman has 267,663.08 more points

Man, this must be one well-to-do neighborhood to have so much missing for so long and nobody noticed!
Wonder if she is related to the promoters of Compass Academy?

KSL
120652
Points
KSL 05/07/13 - 06:19 pm
3
1
Yeah, right

DIXIE

KSL
120652
Points
KSL 05/07/13 - 06:21 pm
3
1
KSL
120652
Points
KSL 05/07/13 - 06:26 pm
3
1
I never heard of Compass

I never heard of Compass Academy. Thankfully I don't run in those circles. Apparently the perps failed to be successful in misleading people. Throw them under the jail. Even the stupid need protection from these types.

KSL
120652
Points
KSL 05/07/13 - 06:37 pm
2
1
Well not that much. The

Well not that much. The greedy don't deserve the protection even though they are stupid. America doesn't have the resources any longer from protecting us from the stupid. They were trying years ago with Head start. It didn't work. In late 70's early 80's presented by honest social work university and government people who found that all benefits from Head Start had disappeared by Sen year in high school.

Wasted money.

scoopdedoop64
2353
Points
scoopdedoop64 05/07/13 - 08:11 pm
3
1
Should Be

@ GAD It should be a few years and not months. I agree with most of the posts that they had way too much money if they didn't notice that much gone over a period of time. It would seem that if they had that much money they could put it in some type of account that could make money for them and they would not have to pay as much in the future. Just a thought.

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