Interesting Sentence for ‘Depressed’ Embezzler

Question: If you knew you could steal $40,000 and only get a 60 day jail sentence, would you do it? $20,000 tax free dollars a month is pretty tempting, isn’t it?

Well, that’s the sentence given a 72 year old Idaho woman when she embezzled that amount from her seniors-only community, the Florida Estates HOA. She said she stole the money because she was depressed.

The sentence gets even more interesting. After her two month jail sentence she’s required to make $40,000 restitution at the rate of $200 a month. I’m not very good at math but it looks like that’s about 17 years. And she’ll be 89 when she’s finished paying. I suspect most of the neighbors she ripped off will be dead or institutionalized by that time.

Crime really does pay.

And the crooks know it.

(link to Idaho Press story about woman sentenced for grand theft)


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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.

8 thoughts on “Interesting Sentence for ‘Depressed’ Embezzler

  1. Deborah Goonan

    I am trying to wrap my head around why sentences for convicted embezzlers are so light. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that insurance companies sell fidelity policies that supposedly cover these losses?

    Of course, we all know that even if the HOA actually purchases insurance, that doesn’t mean that it will fully cover the loss due to embezzlement. In fact, usually it doesn’t come close.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      I’ve tried for many years to figure that out. But in forty years of news reporting I’ve seen that the vast majority of white collar criminals spend about 18 months behind bar, no matter how much they’ve stolen.

      1. Deborah Goonan

        What makes stealing thousands or even millions from HOAs less of a crime than robbing a bank or burglarizing a home or business? Yet those crimes result in longer jail sentences and harsher penalties, right?

        Instead of a war on drugs, maybe we need a war on white collar crime!

    1. robert

      “Actually, we need a war on the judiciary followed by a war on the legislatures.”

      “While 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population are lawyers, 41 percent of the 113th Congress are. Members of Congress are sixty-eight times as likely as all American adults to have practiced law.”

      State of the Congress 2013
      released January 2013

      “The YLD [ Young Lawyer’s Division of the Iowa State Bar Association ] Executive Council discussed this and decided we wanted to encourage
      lawyers and, in particular young lawyers, by providing them information in a nonpartisan manner on how they might be able to balance the practice of law while serving.”

      “Iowa, as with many states, has only a fraction of its lawmakers as attorneys. James Carney, ISBA’s contracted legislative counsel and one of the speakers at the academy, told the 60-plus attendees that approximately 15 percent of state legislators nationwide are attorneys — a number that has been steadily declining from 22 percent slightly more than 30 years ago. Iowa had 15 lawyer-legislators in its last legislative session, a mere 10 percent of the 50 senators and 100 representatives who comprise the state’s legislative body.”

      “Beating The Drum For More Lawyer-Legislators: One Bar’s Success Story”
      Bar Leader (American Bar Association). Vol. 34 No. 6 (July-August 2010)
      emphasis added

      Attorneys are “officers of the court”. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems that having officers of the judical branch being members of the legislative branch is a violation of separation of powers. As a layperson who has been ground through civil court a couple of times, I believe that laws are written to benefit the lawyer class, and not “we the people”.

      PS — Here is a video of two law professors explaining how judges decide the law to benefit lawyers :

      PJTV: Bias! The Case Against Lawyers and Judges

      PJ Media
      uploaded on Jan 27, 2011

      Is the law biased in favor of judges and lawyers? Does the legal system give the legal profession special privileges? Do lawyers have liberties that other do not? Find out as Benjamin H. Barton, author of “The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System” joins Glenn to talk about his book.

  2. Cynthia

    Deborah and Ward, I agree 100% with what you both have said in this discussion. I have no clue of why sentences are so light and financial restitution many times never happens in the HOA criminality. When the “war on drugs” swept America, harsh sentences that many believe are unfair and unjust became the norm and sometimes for very minor infractions of the drug laws I have read. Maybe, we need a “war on HOA criminality and property thefts” across the nation and prosecution of every one of those involved, or who has been involved in any of the fraudulent HOA crimes against innocent homeowners and fraudulent property thefts.

  3. Association Evaluation

    Our company has also seen this epidemic rising in America. How can we trust unpaid and untrained individuals? In most cases, these board members do not agree to any code of ethics policy or complete a background check.


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