By Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published September 8, 2014
Many of you heard the Condo Craze show a few weeks ago concerning the Mainlands VII HOA in
Tamarac, where a President was arrested for stealing over $180,000.00 from her association. Earlier in the week, I appeared on the local news regarding yet another President allegedly taking tens of thousands of dollars for management fees, despite not being a licensed community association manager.
Lately, it seems that week after week we hear about an association’s board member getting arrested for stealing. It’s alarming.
In all fairness to directors of condos and HOAs, we also hear almost every day about doctors getting arrested for Medicare fraud, attorneys stealing from trust accounts, and government officials taking bribes. The question is…..are directors of associations more likely to commit financial crimes than members of other professions? Is it because they don’t get paid and at some point believe they are deserving of these funds? Is it simply because nobody is watching and the temptation is too great?
For a long time, the condo statute automatically removed board members who were arrested for stealing association funds. HOAs on the other hand had no such protection until Jan Bergemann and I worked hard two years ago to have the same rule of law apply to HOA directors and officers who steal. We both got tired of hearing about directors who stole money and continued to serve as President of the association ---FROM PRISON.
Should directors who steal be subject to harsh discipline because in effect they are stealing from all of the members of the community and there are more victims than a typical theft? Would a salaried board cure the temptation and the problem? I don’t pretend to know the answers, but the more we hear about arrests of board members gone awry, the more difficult it becomes for board members with pure hearts to gain the trust and confidence of the members of their own communities.