DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- Whether you love or hate your homeowner's association (HOA), you know that when the dues are due, you have to pay. But how much do you know about how that money gets spent?
A group of homeowners in Douglasville, Ga. said they’ve been trying for years to answer that question. They said that for years their dues have been going up with little explanation why. They asked to see their bank statements and receipts for spending but the board, through its attorney, repeatedly said no.
Four years ago, Iva Wilmott said he was hired by HOA treasurer Kevin Sanders to fix a fence for the neighborhood and paint some of Sander’s personal furniture. He said both jobs were paid with one check from the HOA account.
“I didn’t feel too good about it but he paid me, so I said okay,” said Wilmott.
Wilmott reported it to a friend he knew in the neighborhood but didn’t tell law enforcement. When concerns started to grow on other issues, the story of the “check” surfaced.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office agreed to look into it and subpoenaed 5 years of bank records to help in the case. In his interview, Sanders told Detective Skinner he paid cash for the personal projects and adamantly denied doing anything wrong.
In the recorded interview, you can hear Skinner ask, “Has there ever been any time, any occasion with the HOA account, where you have siphoned money to, let’s say, $5 or more off the account?” Sanders responds, “No.” “No circumstances whatsoever?” the detective asks again. Sanders repeats his answer, “No.”
Sanders goes on to tell the detective why he believes the allegation was made. He claimed a homeowner, Sherry Adams, was disgruntled over her HOA dues and wanted to get him removed from the board, believing that would absolve her responsibility to pay.
At the time Adams was defending herself against a lawsuit regarding her past due HOA fees and violations posed against her property, as well as a court order demanding she stay away from Sanders. Adams filed her own lawsuits raising questions about the board’s behavior.
Adams said that while her personal frustration with how the board handled her case started her quest for answers, she quickly found other homeowners that shared her concerns.
Regardless, Douglas County, unable to find proof of criminal wrongdoing in regard to the check in question, closed the case. It’s unclear why they even subpoenaed the bank records since the sheriff’s office admits investigators never examined them specifically for red flags. They were focused on the check. But the fact that bank statements were now in the hands of someone other than the HOA board meant 11Alive and others in the community had another opportunity to file an open records request to get them.