Whew! Some Crooks do it Right!

We get word from Chicago that an Arizona man has been sent to prison for stealing 2 million dollars from three condo associations. Jay Strauss, of Scottsdale, Arizona, had been mixing the money from the three associations for at least the past three years. Then he’d siphon off money to pay for his own real estate investments.  He might never have been caught except that his own company went broke, and suddenly the condo associations discovered their own accounts had been depleted.

But what a way to go!  Always let the U.S. Attorney prosecute your case! Strauss pleaded guilty and got three years in prison. Well, that’s kind of an exaggeration.  His first 18 months will be spent at a hospital. Seems the poor fellow is suffering health problems and is in a wheelchair.  Restitution has been ordered, but if you believe that’ll ever be paid then you still believe in tooth fairies and Easter bunnies.

A special note to potential thieves: don’t ever rob a bank or a 7/11. The take is too small. Rob a Homeowners Association. Most of them are too dumb to know they’ve even been robbed, and your prison sentence will be miniscule.

Finally, a special note to all Homeowner Associations: do a forensic audit of your HOA books.  The chances are extraordinarily high that you’ve already been robbed. It’s too easy, it’s too untraceable, and it’s too difficult to prosecute. And mind the old wisdom that half of all people will steal if they don’t think they’ll get caught.  If you’re honest, your board member is not. 50/50. Tragic, but true.

Ward Lucas
Author of
Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association

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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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