“That’s One for You, Ten for Me, One for You and Ten for Me.”

The number of embezzlements by HOA officers is almost laughable. I’d say unbelievable but that’s not the right word. Greed is part of the human condition and has been around since Cain and Able.

Still, you’d think that some embezzlers would feel a little bit guilty.

Enter Elizabeth Mills Wilson, treasurer of the Manor at Harmon Lake Homeowners Association in Forsyth County. Now I’m not saying she’s guilty. That’ll be determined by a jury, or by a guilty plea. Her Sheriff’s booking photo makes her look a little bit arrogant. 

But then, you’d have to be a little arrogant to steal $40,000 from your neighbors. A judge will give her a suspended sentence and maybe a tongue lashing. What this country really needs is some real lashings!


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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.

7 thoughts on ““That’s One for You, Ten for Me, One for You and Ten for Me.”

  1. jim white

    Dear Ward. though this happens in all walks of life – look at the total theft in the government. that’s where you are mandated assessment after assessment and they blatantly steal the money out in the open. how about making a positive on the HOA and the success of a HOA. Some HOA follow the law and they are successful. Though I am in one and yes it can be dictatorial at times, I try to give owners how to work with it with outside the sandbox results..

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi Jim, I never mind giving credit to a successful HOA as long as they pass this one test. EVERY HOA is bad because they’re all just one vote away from disaster. If yours has protections in place to help it rise above that grim statistic then I’ll give you credit. Some very rare HOAs are actually putting Constitutional rights above the petty bickering and neighbor abuse. But those neighborhoods are exceedingly rare.

      1. Dave Russell

        You are correct, Ward. Even if you have a decent HOA, you are just one board member or one stupid manager away from a catastrophic disaster.

  2. Deborah Goonan

    Can you show me an example of an HOA that allocates votes one per resident vs. one per unit/proportional share of square footage?

    Can you show me an HOA with separation of powers between the folks who make the rules (the Board), enforce the rules (the Board), and conduct hearings on rule violations (Board appointed committee with appeal to the Board)?

    How many HOAs have been created of, by, and for the people rather than of, by, and for Developers?

    There won’t be more than a handful.

    But the ultimate injustice is the lack of buyer choice – practically all new construction for the last 20-30 years has been either mandated or de facto mandated as common interest communities with the obligatory HOA. Sure, let those who are complacent with their HOAs keep them. (To each his own) Give the rest of us a way to own property without the burden of an HOA. There is already an oversupply of empty HOA lots and condo units in most parts of the US.

  3. Nila Ridings

    Jim White,

    Perhaps thinking of an HOA in this manner will bring reality closer?

    Say you’ve known a guy for sixteen years that drinks, gets drunk, and drives. Never once has he had a problem; no accidents or injuries. In your seventeenth year of knowing this beer drinker he stops at the biker bar, gets drunk, and kills twenty kids on a school bus. He destroys his life and destroys the lives of the family members and loved ones of every dead child. Yet, nobody recalls the sixteen years he drove drunk and never hurt a soul.

    Lives are destroyed by HOAs when the board members get drunk on their power. And, it only takes ONE VOTE to put that power-hungry maniac homeowner on the board!


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