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Garner police investigate after HOAs say money missing

Posted August 10

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— Police said Wednesday that they are investigating the possible embezzlement of tens of thousands of dollars from at least six homeowners associations in the Triangle.

Accounts for all six HOAs were, at some point, maintained by Kornerstone Community Management in Garner. Two of the HOAs have filed reports with Garner police, and four have filed complaints with the Consumer Protection Division of the state Attorney General's Office.

Kornerstone provides management services to about two dozen HOAs in the Triangle. Its office was locked on Wednesday – the company is listed as "permanently closed" on Google – and president Diana Ellis Kelly didn't return phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Tony Losada, an HOA vice president for the Greystone Crossing neighborhood in Garner, said about $52,000 is unaccounted for after the HOA decided to leave Kornerstone in May and tried to transfer its funds to another management company last month.

"The money may be somewhere in a bank account, and she may have some type of issue that she's dealing with and she's not able to get back with us, which would be the nice thing to think," Losada said. "Or she's on vacation in Tahiti. I'm not quite sure."

A Kornerstone check for almost $24,500 in Greystone's operating account was returned for insufficient funds, he said, so the transfer for the remaining money was never attempted.

In the Wellington neighborhood in Angier, a letter from the HOA president informed residents that the association's account had been drained of more than $9,000 with no warning from Kornerstone. The HOA reported the missing money to Garner police.

"We're still in the preliminary stages of that investigation and trying to get our victims together, trying to ascertain what happened and then where to go from here," Garner police Capt. Joe Binns said.

Binns said the investigation could be long and complex, giving the number of HOAs that might be involved.

"We have a lot of other victims to contact and a lot of potential victims to contact," he said. "Once we've made those contacts and kind of get an idea of what we're talking about, then we can proceed on to the other pieces of that investigation."

An HOA representative for the Hunter's Mill community in Clayton said an account with Kornerstone holding $16,000 has been frozen.

Kari Alberque of the Laneridge HOA in Raleigh went to Kornerstone's office Wednesday seeking answers to questions.

"We're just trying to gather information and figure out how we get access to our records," Alberque said.

"We're disappointed that she, for some reason, wasn't being forthright with us and, for some reason, doesn't want to give us our money back," Losada said.

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