Woman Steals $498K From HOA for Vacation and Bonuses: Investigators

An Alabama woman has been accused of stealing nearly $500,000 from a Georgia homeowners association (HOA) where she had been property manager.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said the woman, 66-year-old Shirley Brown of Eastaboga, Calhoun County, had been working as property manager for the Mirror Lakes Homeowners Association in Villa Rica, Georgia, since 2014.

Villa Rica is located 35 miles west of downtown Atlanta.

As part of her role, she had access to the homeowners association's bank account, which she managed. She also had the power to accept the home association's payments, pay bills and make deposits.

According to the GBI, the woman did not take the staggering amount of money out of the bank account in one go—but started stealing the residents' money years ago.

In February 2021, the association's new governing board first noticed that $189,000 was missing. In the same month, the GBI said it was contacted by the Villa Rica Police Department and asked to investigate.

After an official audit into the association's finances, investigators found that Brown had allegedly stolen $498,815 between January 2015 and January 2021. The GBI says that Brown wrote herself unauthorized checks claiming they were for bonuses and vacation pay.

She was arrested this week and charged with one count of theft by taking but has been released from the Carroll County Jail, as confirmed to Newsweek by a spokesperson for the jail.

The GBI continues to investigate the case, and is asking anyone with information to contact the Villa Rica Police Department at (770) 459-5149 or the GBI Region 2 Field Office at (706) 565-7888.

Once the GBI investigation is complete, the case will be handed over to the Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

​​The penalty of theft by taking in Georgia can be either a misdemeanor, in cases in which the theft totals $500 or less, or a felony, if the value of what's stolen or money taken is more than that.

While misdemeanor can result in a fine of no more than $1000 and a jail sentence of no more than 12 months, a felony is punished with a prison sentence of no less than one year and no more than ten years.

Brown's alleged theft is being treated as a felony.

Newsweek has reached out to the GBI and the Mirror Lake Homeowners Association for comment.

Woman arrested
Stock image of a woman in handcuffs. An Alabama woman has been accused of stealing nearly $500,000 from a Georgia homeowners association where she had been property manager. Getty Images