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Dozens of Lowcountry homeowners associations sue property manager

Lawsuit

More than 50 homeowners associations from Seabrook to Summerville filed a lawsuit this week alleging that a property manager billed at least some of them for services that weren't provided.

The nearly five dozen plaintiffs filed the lawsuit Monday in Charleston County Circuit Court alleging that Marshland Communities and its owner, Karen Colie, misappropriated funds from at least some of them.

Colie did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday and Thursday. The Marshland Communities office did not return calls for comment Thursday.

The lawsuit includes affidavits from both current and former employees of Marshland who allege properties were charged for services that weren't rendered.

Meredith Millender, an employee since 2016, filed an affidavit said Colie admitted to her that she billed some of the properties for services that weren't provided. "She stated, "I made some terrible mistakes in an effort to stay afloat and it has caught up with me. I tried hard to fix everything but it was too much,'" Millender wrote in the affidavit. "She further stated, 'I can't even begin to describe the sorry, regret, shame and fear ... I'm very aware of what my actions have done to people's lives."

Adam Kraemer, a Marshland employee since July 2015, said in an affidavit that he confronted Colie about suspicious transactions on March 4 and she also admitted it to him. According to Kraemer's affidavit, Colie told him, "I only took money from the ones I could get away with."

Lauren Fox, association manager at Pelican Cove on James Island, also stated she found Colie had spent thousands of dollars on services never rendered to fix flooding damage.

Pelican Cove homeowner Rob Davis said he became aware of the allegations Monday.

"We don't know much at this point other than some money was taken, approximately $5,000," Davis said. "Upon finding out, we began looking for another company to represent us and that process. We had our lawyer look into it further."

Jamie MacGeorge, a homeowner in Majestic Oaks, said he had no prior knowledge of the lawsuit until ABC News 4's Stacy Jacobson asked him about it. He lives in his home with his wife and two children and said he paid about $500 a year in HOA fees.

"It sucks. You don't know if it's one person or the whole thing. But it sucks to have people to take money from you," MacGeorge said.

At the plaintiffs' request, a judge on Monday appointed a receiver, IMC Resort Services, to take over the accounts. The judge also ordered the Charleston County Sheriff's Office to secure the company's office at 3730 Bohicket Road on Johns Island, as well as its records and bank accounts.

A representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigations said agents were aware of the lawsuit but wouldn't comment on whether they had opened a criminal investigation.

Another hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for March 14.

The lawsuit listed Derek Dean as the plaintiffs' attorney but he did not return calls made by ABC News 4.

Among the plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit are the homeowners associations for Affirmation Oaks, Bridgewater at Carolina Bay, Courtyards at Wescott, Dune Crest, Folly Oaks, Golf Club at Briars Creek, Gulf Shore Villas, Homes of Hidden Oaks, Ibis Glade, Island Bluff Villas, Legend Oaks Plantation, Liberty Hall, Majestic Oaks, Oak Park, Ocean Neighbors, Ocean Winds, Pelican Cove, Sealoft Villas, Shadowmoss Plantation, Wescott Plantation and Wexford Sound.


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