Clayton woman pleads guilty, apologizes for embezzling from HOAs
Posted April 10
Raleigh, N.C. — The former owner of a homeowners association management company pleaded guilty Monday to stealing as much as $800,000 from dozens of area HOAs.
Twenty-five HOAs from across the Triangle filed complaints last year with the Garner Police Department or the Consumer Protection Division of the state Attorney General’s Office after accounts were found drained and checks started bouncing. Accounts for all of the HOAs were, at some point, maintained by Kornerstone Community Management in Garner, which Diana Ellis Kelly owned and operated.
Board members of one community Kelly managed said they discovered their $150,000 bank account had dwindled to $46.
"It's very difficult to explain to 147 homeowners who entrusted you with looking out for their interests that the money has been taken. We've been lied to," said Diane Turner with the Village of Aversboro.
"To do that to fellow people you know, and we respected her, it's disgusting in my opinion,” said Vincent Roesti, with the Rowland Meadows community.
Kelly pleaded guilty to 25 counts of embezzlement. She apologized in court, but never said why she did it.
"I just want to say how deeply sorry I am to my homeowners, vendors, family and friends," she said aloud in court.
Leah Campbell, who owns a townhome in a community Kelly managed, said the apology came too late for her and her son, who has cognitive disabilities.
"My son has grown to love this little community," she said. "We're trying to come up with the money for future repairs in order for him to stay."
Judge Donald Stephens called Kelly a thief.
"She's just a thief. She stole your money. She's just a thief," he said.
Kelly was sentenced to 10 to 14 years in prison.