The former treasurer of a Brookhaven homeowners association has been arrested and charged with stealing $123,000 from the group’s reserve account.
William Blake, 68, lived at the Bluffs of Nancy Creek, a development of about 80 homes. He was arrested April 12 on a charge of theft by taking and released the same day on $100,000 bond, according to information on the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office website.
HOA officers became aware March 10 that Blake was moving out of the neighborhood without notification, said a DeKalb County police incident report. When an HOA officer went to Blake’s home and asked for financial reports, Blake admitted he had mishandled the HOA’s money, the report said.
The HOA officer told police that Blake gave him a note promising to repay the money at $800 per month. The report didn’t say whether that offer was accepted.
Joe Martin, the HOA vice president who filed the complaint with police, declined comment when contacted by telephone.
The incident report said $123,000 was taken during 2006 and 2007, but a letter that HOA leaders sent to residents of the Bluffs said the money was taken from 2006 to 2009.
The letter said a lien had been filed against Blake’s house and the HOA’s insurance companies have been notified. The letter also said the HOA’s operating account was sound and should be adequate to cover expenses for the year. The reserve account was established by the developer to cover future capital expenses.
The letter said the HOA has instituted new check-writing policies and increased access to online accounts in response to the incident.
“How could this happen?” the letter asked. “It happened because we trusted our neighbor not to breach the trust the members placed in him when he was elected to serve on the board and the trust we placed in him when we elected him to the office of treasurer.”
George Nowack of Atlanta, an attorney whose firm represents about 1,000 HOAs, said thefts from community associations are on the rise.
“It appears it’s the result of the economy,” he said. “When people are caught they say they needed the money to pay bills.”
Most suspects say they planned to pay the money back eventually, Nowack said.
By Ralph Ellis