Another Baffling HOA Embezzlement

Even after a forty year TV News career of reporting on the victims of crime I’ve never succeeded at getting into the heads of white collar criminals, why they do what they do, and why they’re seemingly unconcerned about the emotional and financial damage they do to their victims. They seem to think and act in a language I’ve never understood.

The Arbor Ridge Homeowners Association in Torrington, Connecticut has been socking away money to pay to rebuild roads that were poorly constructed by the original developer. But over a six or seven year term as president and treasurer of the HOA, it appears that 52 year old Roger Okenquist has been socking away money in his own personal account.

Torrington Police say the president/treasurer wrote more than 500 checks to himself, his wife and children, even though the Arbor Ridge HOA doesn’t allow that. How could someone not notice?

Some of these thefts are so old that the statute of limitations has expired. It’s possible that these victimized homeowners are getting exactly what they deserved.

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” -Jefferson

(link to Torrington embezzlement)


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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.

5 thoughts on “Another Baffling HOA Embezzlement

  1. Cynthia

    Yes, Ward, another “isolated incident,” right? This is another example of these long term HOA board members and no checks, balances, or other. I wonder what the other board members were thinking? He could have been falsifying the books too, and if required, maybe yearly audits would have uncovered it.

    I would like you to explain, Ward, what you mean in this content from your blog:

    “Some of these thefts are so old that the statute of limitations has expired. It’s possible that these victimized homeowners are getting exactly what they deserved.”

    Thank you.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Cynthia, my last line should have more than proved my comment about people getting what they deserve. Thomas Jefferson told us “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” If we citizens don’t watch those we place in power, those in power will cheat us, steal from us, and deprive us of the rights we hold so dear. So you can’t just blame the criminal. It’s our fault for letting it happen. As far as some of the thefts being beyond the statute of limitations, that was a line pulled from the linked story. The police say they can’t prosecute thefts that went beyond the statute. That doesn’t mean the citizens can’t prosecute in civil court and they should do so. They should make an example of this person for all other future potential thieves.

      1. Deborah Goonan

        Yes, Ward, and vigilance must also apply in holding our elected officials and appointed leaders (such as judges) accountable for doing their jobs and upholding the law. So often, those who are supposed to be looking out for the people simply turn a blind eye and ignore injustice. Or they divert responsibility to someone else.

        And we need to start looking at the records of our politicians — what laws did they “craft” and did those laws truly benefit the people? What about their voting records?

  2. Deborah Goonan

    This is one of those rare cases where the HOA is “made whole” between the insurance settlement and amounts collected from the perpetrator. Quite often, we hear that the HOA lacks sufficient insurance coverage or that their claim is denied. Many times it is difficult to get the police involved. In this case, a Board member filed the report and the case was investigated. But when a member at large reports problems to the police, it is often ignored. There ARE occasions where the entire Board is corrupt, or where the Board has dwindled down to one or two individuals writing checks for their own benefit.

    The moral of the story? If you live in an HOA, do not assume that your Board and Manager are incapable of theft and embezzlement. The more eyes watching the people with access to the money, the better.

  3. tom dee

    It is nice to say one has to watch and be on your guard but in the case of the hoa there really is little one can do. If you get notice you will be flooded with many $50 fines which you cannot fight. There is no limit as to how cruel the hoa board and its members are and then you have the case of the management companies which in the case of our hoa is owned by the head of our hoa. Under the existing world there is nothing a person can do. You are not allowed to that them to court and arbitration is only allowed with a local and that perso n has to be approved by the hoa In short you can if you dare go and take it to arbitration but it will be heard by one of our friendly faces. In short it is as useless as anything be.
    The solution is at the ballot box and understanding there is no incumbent worth voting for. Only by getting new people will you get the existing laws to be changed. If an existing office holder wanted a change they would have a record of going after changes but usually you will only hear total lies about the other person distorted to being a joke. If you elect the same people you will live with the existing world.


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