Monday, August 14, 2017

Real Estate Managing Agent Pinched For Allegedly Bilking 15 Landlords For Over $330K In Rent Collections, Tenants' Security Deposits Held In Company Escrow Account

In Warwick, Pennsylvania, The Intelligencer reports:
  • A Doylestown Township woman who owns a real estate management company is charged with fraudulently using more than $330,000 to pay her business expenses, Warwick police allege in a criminal complaint.

    Helene Senior, 67, of Gatehouse Lane, is charged with four felony counts, including theft and receiving stolen property. According to court documents, a client contacted Warwick police after Senior failed to respond to numerous attempts to contact her, and a police investigation allegedly revealed that Senior had taken $338,494 from 15 customers out of an escrow account and used it for her personal business purposes.

    Police say that Senior owns Mark V. Realty and operates out of an office on Stout Drive in Warwick. The property management firm is primarily tasked with collecting rent for other property owners in Bucks and Montgomery counties and sending her clients the money.

    One of her clients, Scott Cornell, hired Senior to collect rent on three properties owned in Warminster and maintain security deposits paid by the properties' tenants, totaling more than $33,000, in an interest-bearing escrow savings account, police said. Under the agreement, Senior would collect the rent, pay herself a 6 percent commission and send the remainder to Cornell.

    According to the probable cause affidavit, Cornell began collecting the rent himself in April 2016 after Senior failed to perform her duties or call him back after numerous messages. Cornell made a formal request that Senior end the contract and return the security deposits in escrow, but she did not respond to his phone calls or mailed letters, police said.

    Warwick police allege they reached out to Senior's other clients and found 14 additional customers who could not get a hold of Senior nor recover security deposits she agreed to hold in an escrow account. After looking at her bank accounts, police found that the security deposits had been transferred out of escrow and used for business-related expenses, according to court documents.

    Senior met with the police in July and allegedly admitted that she transferred the escrow money into her general accounts and used the funds for salaries and other expenses without her clients' authorization.

    She told police that she intended to pay the money back but, "once it got out of hand she did not have the money to put back into her customers' escrow accounts," the affidavit says.

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