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Ex-treasurer arrested in quarter-million-dollar thefts

Posted: May 7, 2013 - 10:34am  |  Updated: May 7, 2013 - 4:14pm
Laurie Wainwright Vanover, 45, the former treasurer of an Evans neighborhood association, has been charged with stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from the organization.  Special Photo
Special Photo
Laurie Wainwright Vanover, 45, the former treasurer of an Evans neighborhood association, has been charged with stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from the organization.

Twitter @ColumbiaCounty

The former treasurer of an Evans neighborhood association has been charged with stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from the organization.

Laurie Wainwright Vanover, 45, of the 1400 block of Andover Court, was charged with multiple counts of financial transaction card fraud, computer theft, theft by taking and theft by conversion after turning herself in Tuesday morning at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, said Capt. Steve Morris.

Vanover was released after posting a $40,400 bond, Morris said.

Vanover, who cooperated in the investigation, is accused of stealing $267,663.08 from the Stratford Community Association between November 2008 and December 2012, while she served as treasurer of the organization, Morris said.

Association President Tom Gorta first reported to police that funds were missing from the account on Dec. 19, and initially investigators estimated about $192,000 was missing from the neighborhood’s accounts.

Gorta said he’s not surprised that the amount of money Vanover is accused of stealing is more than he originally identified.

“It’s more, but it’s not that much more,” Gorta said. “When you think about how much she could have taken.”

During the nearly five-month investigation that followed, with Vanover’s assistance, auditors were able to find $135,155.50 listed as stolen through checks Vanover wrote or converted to her use; $115,115.10 had been taken through computer transactions; and $17,352.48 was taken through financial transaction card fraud, much of it through ATM withdrawals.

Vanover is a licensed real estate agent previously associated with various local agencies, but not currently employed. She previously served on the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, but was not reappointed in January when her term expired as the case was under investigation.

The subdivision, off Hardy McManus Road, has 491 homes, Gorta has said. The association is responsible for maintenance of a community pool and common areas including an activity field and greenspace park.

There’s nothing the homeowners association wasn’t able to do because of the missing money, Gorta said. The theft had a lesser effect because it was done over time as opposed to one lump sum stolen.

“It hurts, don’t get me wrong,” Gorta said. “We’ll be fine. They (residents) just have to pay their dues.”

Vanover’s arrest is the second major Columbia County arrest in recent months for similar charges.

Charles Holtzclaw, 26, of Martinez, was charged under the Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in April for what investigators say was a scheme that stole more than $200,000 from his former employer, Howard Lumber Co. of Evans.

Holtzclaw currently is free on $25,000 bond. He is accused of brokering deals for building materials and keeping the payments, then covering the thefts by charging the materials to other accounts, Morris said.

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Comments (4)

Bubba

“We’ll be fine. They (residents) just have to pay their dues.”

Seriously. What I read here is that they collect AT LEAST 62k more a year from the residents than anyone even notices is missing. That’s how much can be stolen a year and all the bills still get paid. The imperiousness of neighborhood associations is unbelievable. Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but it appears that this woman is guilty of stealing, but I'm not sure the association doesn't have a license to steal from what I read.

My back of the envelope figuring shows she walked off with approximately 54 hundred a month over 4 years and a month. Really? And yet the Association Prez says, "There’s nothing the homeowners association wasn’t able to do because of the missing money". Read that... "We are fat with cash, thanks to the 491 suckers who don't come to the homeowners association meeting, serve on the board or otherwise do anything except blindly write us a check. Thanks!"

“It’s more, but it’s not that much more,” Gorta said. “When you think about how much she could have taken.”
Really? How much more could she have gotten than 267k? Your original estimate was only off by 75 thousand. Chicken feed on Hardy McManus I guess.

If I lived there I would want to know why in the world she was the treasurer for more than 2 years. Nobody should be the President, VP, or Treasurer of an Association for more than 2 years. It invites a sense of entitlement; that you are king, not servant. Wow.

I get it; you have to save for that major pool maintenance, but wow. I think ya'll are being gouged in your neighborhood and I don't mean by the former treasurer.

soapy_725

HOA are a scam!!!

HOA are a scam!!!

“It hurts, don’t get me wrong,” Gorta said. “We’ll be fine. They (residents) just have to pay their dues.”

Home Owners Association is an acronym for realtor/developer advertisement slush fund. You can't sell upscale homes in a ghetto. The "image" you know. Dollars you know.

Who votes in these HOA? Who decides when and where grass is planted and mowed? Pansies dead headed? Not the homeowners.

Some abide by the covenants, while others do as they please. "Oh, our HOA attorney will bring charges, and we will collect $25 a day until the issue is resolved. It all depends on "who you know".

Rule were meant to be broken and never more so that in an HOA.

It should be called HUSH, not HOA. Help Us (developer/realtors) Sell Homes.

Adios' covenants when the last tenth acre lot is sold. Adios' when the last parcel next to the entrance become a filling station, strip mall or Section 8 apartments.

Most homeowners do not live in a community long enough to see the "evolution" of the "planned cluster community". They don't get to choose the components of the cluster. They do not get a vote on the "zoning changes".

Sweet son

Two months ago I spoke to a HOA officer about how our money was

being spent. I also asked to be rebilled for my dues and a copy of the budget. I received a short email about how monies are spent which I was satisfied with. I have not received a bill or copy of the budget. Our HOA must be doing so well on it's finances that they don't need my money! I won't ask for anything else since I am not a paying participant! I believe that they are just a disorganized group with no clear goals!

Spelunkerman

Sweet Son

Have you ever attended an HOA meeting? I would imagine not. Assuming you never have been involved in your community dealings, It's easy to criticize. It is indicative of the transformation in American culture that it's never my fault. I do not live in a community with an HOA, but have in the past. I would be careful not paying HOA dues and fees. My understanding is most of them are legal entities with Covenants and By-Laws. Evans has many residents with sacred Security Clearances that need to be maintained/renewed. Liens and other civil actions don't bode well on background checks.

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