Homeowners in a Columbia County neighborhood are still looking for answers when it comes to the missing money in their homeowners association account. Wednesday night, a Columbia County Sheriff's Office investigator met with homeowners in the Stratford subdivision to discuss the case. WJBF News Channel 6's Mike Miller reports on the investigation.
It's been about four months since Stratford Homeowners Association (HOA) president Tom Gorta realized that $192,000 was missing from the HOA's bank accounts.
“How could this happen? You know, what could I have done better? I mean, you know, your emotions, it's liked getting kicked in the stomach. I mean, number one you feel betrayed. Then of course it's anger,” says Gorta.
Gorta says that the treasurer of the association was the only person with access to the accounts. Earlier this week, Captain Steve Morris, of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, told us that an arrest could be made some time in the next month. But, Gorta says that Columbia County authorities already know who they will arrest, and he says they just need to follow the paper trail before they can do so.
“They could have made an arrest, probably in December, but they didn't want to do that. They want to make sure that everything is done right,” Gorta says.
Investigators say they were waiting on subpoenas from the HOA's bank.
Now that the case seems to be coming to a close, Gorta says he has been thinking alot about what he could have done differently to prevent this from happening. “Of course, I have been blamed. The rest of the board members have been blamed and, you know, maybe rightfully so. I mean, you can call me naive, you can even call me stupid, but you can't call me thief, alright? And I've been called thief,” he says.
Gorta says nobody saw this coming because of trust. He says the treasurer fooled him and the rest of the HOA board members by moving money around. “'Well, I need to see the bank account for the pool account.' Okay, so we would get the pool account. 'How are we with the HOA funds?' We never got it, and you just never thought about it,” he says.
Gorta says they are now putting two people in charge of the HOA bank accounts. He says they will no longer use debit cards and online banking.