Police: Man took $20,000 from homeowners association

The former president of a Center Grove-area homeowners association is facing six criminal charges, including multiple felonies, after taking more than $21,000 from the association, police said.

Joseph P. Girgenti, 60, 5398 Crooked Stick Drive, Greenwood, was arrested this week. A Johnson County Sheriff’s Office investigation shows the thefts took place from April to September 2018.

He has been charged with four counts of theft, and a charge of check deception, which are all Level 6 felonies. He has also been charged with conversion, which is a misdemeanor.

Girgenti is accused of writing 23 checks to himself totaling $21,597.57 out of the Innisbrooke Homeowners Association bank account. The neighborhood is located southwest of Fairview and Morgantown roads.

Most homeowners associations maintain bank accounts that hold annual dues paid by homeowners in the neighborhood. The dues are then used to pay for upkeep on community amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and pond or lake maintenance.

The checks were disguised in the homeowners association’s financial records as reimbursements to Girgenti to pay for landscaping work, tennis court work, pond shoreline repair work, post office box rentals and other association business, according to a report from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. But bank records and the investigation showed that he wasn’t paying for that work, and instead spending the money on his personal expenses.

Police began investigating the theft immediately after receiving the report and met with companies involved and other homeowners association members and subpoenaed bank records and spoke to bank employees up until late June, when information was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review. The prosecutor’s office filed the criminal charges.

Girgenti spent more than $8,000 of homeowners association money in less than a month on various personal expenses, including pet supplies, groceries, gas, fast food meals, and at a liquor store, the report said.

After his personal account dropped to less than $50, he wrote another check to himself for nearly $1,000.

The investigation began on Oct. 30 after police responded to a call from a member of the homeowners association who had learned that vendors were not getting paid, according to the report.

Account withdrawals to pay for landscaping and electric and water bills had overdrawn the association’s checking account. The bank told members that Girgenti had written checks to himself totaling $13,000 over the last three months, the report said.

Girgenti had also failed to pay fees and file appropriate paperwork with the state, causing the association to dissolve into unincorporated status. A homeowner’s association member told police that suspicious activity had been on the books since 2013, but had escalated in the months preceding the October report. The account was negative $453, the report said. 

Girgenti wrote a check to himself on June 26 in the amount of $8,137.50, noting that the check was a reimbursement to pay for 40 trees from a landscaping company. The landscaping company had no records of the work, according to the report.

In late August, he wrote a check in the amount of $141.75 to himself as reimbursement for a post office box. A post office employee told a homeowner’s association member that the post office box was closed for non-payment. He also wrote a check for $415.50 to himself to purportedly be reimbursed for paying to rip rap the neighborhood’s pond. The landscaping company’s last business with the homeowner’s association was in 2016, the report said.

Additional checks of $186.73, $164.25, $286.56 and $151.45, were written as reimbursements for replacement shrubs, fertilizer and weed control. None of the businesses said that expenses had been paid or the work even done, according to the report. 

He also wrote checks to himself in the amounts of $4,100 and $3,487.55 for spillway replacement and tennis court landscaping. Those checks were cashed and the cash was then deposited into his own bank account, the report said.

An employee of a company that is contracted with the homeowner’s association for weed control said Girgenti gave him a check for $10,500, but the check bounced because of insufficient funds, the report said.

When the members of the homeowner’s association confronted Girgenti, he immediately paid back $13,900 into the homeowner’s association account, which leaves $7,694.57 unaccounted for, the report said.

He was arrested and taken to the Johnson County Jail, where he was held on $2,500. An initial hearing on the charges is Thursday, according to court records.