Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Wake DA: Investigating HOA embezzlement case took time

— Officials with several homeowners associations in the Triangle expressed frustration this summer when money went missing from their accounts and no one was being held accountable.

Their wait ended this week, when a Wake County grand jury indicted Diana Ellis Kelly, 54, of Clayton, on 25 counts of embezzlement.

Kelly was the owner of Kornerstone Community Management in Garner, which had management contracts with more than two dozen HOAs, before it unexpectedly closed its doors in August.

Twenty-five of the HOAs that worked with Kornerstone then filed complaints this summer 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.

Police seized boxes of financial records from the Kornerstone office and Kelly’s home, and Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Wednesday that it took a while for financial crimes experts from the State Bureau of Investigation to comb through everything.

“Each of these individual homeowners associations (had) literally hundreds of both receipts and expenditures coming in and out of their accounts. Many of the homeowners associations had changed banks over the course of time,” Freeman said.

Authorities said Kelly is suspected of stealing as much as $800,000 from the HOAs. She was released from the Wake County jail Tuesday night after posting a $500,000 bond.

Freeman said she has been working with the HOAs to look for ways to recoup some of their money.

“It’s really our hope and our desire that, at the end, they will feel like justice has been done in this case,” she said.

Donna Smith with the Wellington HOA in Angier said Kelly’s arrest was a long time coming, and she wants her to spend a good amount of time behind bars.

A special thank you to our friends at WRAL for helping out with this post.

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