• Report: #1060677

Complaint Review: Desert Willows HOA

  • Submitted: Thu, June 20, 2013
  • Updated: Thu, June 20, 2013

  • Reported By: Stephanie Gorman — Desert Hot Springs California
Desert Willows HOA
65565 Acoma Ave. Desert Hot Springs, California USA

Desert Willows HOA President Ed Swenson Adams Kessler Attorney Mr. Swenson used home owner money for gambeling and Mr. Kessler is protecting him Desert Hot Springs California

*Consumer Comment: Ed Swenson's misuse of HOA funds

*General Comment: Mr. Swenson Did Not Misuse HOA Monies

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 In January of this year the treasurer of our HOA discovered multiple ATM withdrawals made from casinos in the financial statements.  He confronted the holder of the ATM card who is the president, Ed Swenson.  Mr. Swenson refused to resign.  the board at that time thought that Mr. Swenson had paid back the almost $2,000.00 because that is what the management company told them....yet no proof of repayment was offered.  The board decided to not censure Mr. Swenson.  The community then decided to recall Mr. Swenson.  Mr. Swenson then hired Mr. Adams of Adams & Kessler.  There was a secret meeting called at the management company office (Personalized Property Management).  The attorney was there as well as the manager of PPM Mr. Shuey.  Basically intimidation practices were used to try to silence myself and the treasurer.  The treasurer was fired.

During the period of time since, Mr. Adams has aided Mr. Swenson in the use of financial intimidation against this elderly community.  Mr. Swenson has gone door to door intimidating the elderly residents and threatening to sue them and take their homes away.  Mr. Swenson has published the names of the people who signed the recall petition in a way that made them seem like a "small group of trouble makers".  Mr. Swenson has issued restraining orders against the homeowners associated with the recall, and has issued strange non compliance with architectural variance rules against us as well.  These homeowners then had to hire and pay for an attorney, find their way to court, find transportation, and go throught the stress of all of this.  For sale signs started to appear.

Mr. Adams used the cumulative voting procedure to help Mr. Swenson beat the recall.

At this time Mr. Swenson still has that ATM card in his pocket and still has access to our funds.  The homeowners have had to pay thousands of dollars to Mr. Adams.  We are totally helpless in this.


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/20/2013 09:24 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Desert-Willows-HOA/Desert-Hot-Springs-California-92240/Desert-Willows-HOA-President-Ed-Swenson-Adams-Kessler-Attorney-Mr-Swenson-used-home-o-1060677. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

Ed Swenson's misuse of HOA funds

AUTHOR: Siena Van Brabant - ()

I am one of the concerned homeowners who tried to have Ed Swenson recalled for financial misuse of homeowner funds.  My background is in accounting and my husband and I have had several successful businesses.

When I requested from the treasurer, in  writing, the financial records of the HOA, it was provided.  I performed an audit by tracking bank transactions and matching them to the journal entries and purchase receipts.  I found over 30 items that were expensed by our property management company, PPM, where there were missing receipts.  To date, these receipts have not been provided.

I also discovered money withdrawn out of the HOA bank account by using a debit card at casinos, nine separate times over a six-month period.  The president had possession of the debit card.

The president, Ed Swenson, was asked to resign.  He was also informed if he did not resign, the entire HOA community would be informed fully of his actions.  He refused to resign.

Two other board members were approached to ask them to remove him from office of president and to remove his access to our HOA funds.  They were reminded of their fiduciary duty. They also refused to act. 

Ed Swenson claims that on four of the casino withdrawal events, he gave the money to the in-house cleaning lady since the association owed her money anyway.  She invoiced, and was paid by cheque from, our management company and was paid in advance of cleaning services.  We did not owe her any money at all.

A campaign was started to recall Ed Swenson from the board.  We went door to door and wrote letters to the homeowners supported by the documentation which proved Ed’s misuse of funds.

Ed Swenson went to the homeowners who signed the recall petition and threatened them with lawsuits if they did not remove their names off the petition. I have witness statements from some of the homeowners who were threatened.  Some of those people contacted, were scared into removing their names off the petition.  Then Ed Swenson posted the amended petition with the remaining names on a public notice board under lock and key.  Surely that must be morally and ethically wrong?

The HOA board sent a letter to all homeowners informing them that an investigation had been performed and Ed Swenson was exonerated from any wrongdoing.  According to the previous treasurer who would still have been a board member at that time, no such investigation took place.

My husband and I went to the police to discuss the issue.  A case file was initiated.  Evidence was given to the police.

Ed Swenson started his own smear campaign.  We were called liars and s****.>

The treasurer of the HOA board was fired at an "Executive Session" for providing confidential information to a homeowner, namely me.  He was not removed from office. Legally he is still a treasurer, but not a board member. At the same meeting, the board replaced the treasurer with another person.  She was not legally appointed.

Another board member and I met with the chief security officer of one of the casinos in question and asked him about the casino withdrawals and asked if there was video evidence.  He informed us that he had already met with the police and that “damning evidence” had been handed over to the police.

Ed Swenson went to a conference in Las Vegas on a scholarship offered by CAI.  He won the entry fee to the conference as well as up to $500 towards his travel expenses.  Ed Swenson submitted his travel expenses to our HOA and we paid for all his travel.  He also submitted the very same receipts to CAI for reimbursement of expenses.  He received a payment in the amount of $500. He has kept the money for himself.  When there was a question as to whether or not he had actually received the scholarship payment, CAI issued a second cheque to Ed Swenson.  Ed Swenson "donated" the second cheque back to our HOA at a public HOA meeting.  When CAI admitted they had made a mistake and wanted their second cheque back, our HOA repayed the money.  Not Ed.

A letter was sent to the assistant DA.  The DA's office wrote to PPM asking PPM to provide details and evidence of the investigation that PPM and the board claimed to have done in order to exonerate Ed Swenson.  PPM met with the DA’s office.  We don’t know what PPM gave to the DA’s office and whether it was completely truthful or not.  According to Robert Roberts, Ed Swenson’s partner in life who wrote the rebuttal above, the DA issued a statement which states, in part, "it is my opinion that there is insufficient evidence of illegal conduct to warrant further action by this office".  This does not mean that there was no evidence and that Ed Swenson did no wrong.

A source has informed me that members of the Desert Hot Springs Police Department were “up in arms” over the situation we are facing here.  They handed over their investigative evidence, and yet the DA’s office would not act on the evidence provided. Without knowing what PPM discussed and gave to the DA’s office, we don’t know why the DA won’t act.

Now each homeowner is being hit with a special assessment related to the recall on the guise that it wasn’t budgeted for and homeowners must pay.  However, last year, the president has spend approximately $10,000 to further his own education in property management which wasn’t budgeted for (and there are other over-budget expenses as well) and no special assessments were handed out then for those.  This is purely a tactic to intimidate the homeowners for daring to stand up for our rights and to protect our community.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this community and most of the people here.  But when someone starts treating the HOA like their own bank account and spending HOA money without any regard for the community, that person  must be stopped.

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#2 General Comment

Mr. Swenson Did Not Misuse HOA Monies

AUTHOR: R E Roberts - ()

~~ The casino ATM withdrawals in question were because Mr. Swenson was attending an HOA-related conference being held at a major Las Vegas casino. The only ATMs available are at the casinos along the strip (duh!) Any 'questionable' transactions were quickly settled by Mr. Swenson, and both the Desert Willows board and Personalized Property Management (PPM) concluded that there was not any intent to defraud anyone.

~~ Mr. Swenson refused to resign when it was demanded because he had done nothing wrong.

~~ When a certain group of "concerned homeowners" (not the entire community as you would have us believe) decided to proceed with a recall election, Mr. Swenson did not hire an attorney. Most homeowner associations are incorporated, and are subject to state statutes that govern non-profit corporations and homeowner associations. Therefore, the Desert Willows board was forced to hire an attorney because recall elections are strictly governed.

~~ The treasurer was fired for illicitly divulging privileged information.

~~ Mr. Adams, the attorney with Personalized Property Management (PPM), did not aid or direct Mr. Swenson in the use of any manner of financial intimidation upon anyone. He couldn't legally do so, even if he wanted to.

~~ The group of 'concerned homeowners' went door to door making all manner of alarmist accusations. You cannot justifiably claim that Mr. Swenson's door to door efforts to explain otherwise constitute intimidation.

~~ Certain homeowners associated with the recall physically threatened Mr. Swenson (there are ample written witness reports for that). That he sought restraining orders was his right. That the said homeowners felt the need to hire an attorney, find their way to court and go through all the stress is a real tear-jerker.

~~ Mr. Adams, the PPM attorney, did not use any means whatsoever to help Mr. Swenson beat the recall. An independent agency formally conducted the recall election, and strict rules were followed. Mr. Adams' presence at the recall election was required by law.

~~ Mr. Swenson does NOT still have the ATM card, nor does he enjoy unfettered access to association funds.

1. You didn't make clear that you are one of the 'concerned homeowners' who demanded the recall.

2. Two different Desert Willows boards, and Personalized Property Management, determined that there was no deliberate wrong-doing nor intent to defraud on the part of Mr. Swenson, but that didn't deter the group of 'concerned homeowners', who have behaved with all the finer qualities of a cackle of hyenas, displaying nothing short of a lynch mob mentality, making unfounded accusations and using scare tactics.

3. It is this same group of 'concerned homeowners' who forced the Desert Willows board to hire an attorney because, as already pointed out, the board was legally required to do so.

5. Someone decided that all of this should be a matter for the Riverside District Attorney and filed a complaint: "embezzlement of HOA funds." After reviewing all the available information, the office of Riverside DA Paul Zellerbach issued a statement on 30 July 2013 which states, in part, "it is my opinion that there is insufficient evidence of illegal conduct to warrant further action by this office".

6. From a recent cost breakdown issued by Personalized Property Management, the actions of these 'concerned homeowners' has amounted to a total cost to the Desert Willows HOA of nearly $7,900 -- that's just shy of EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Is the group of 'concerned homeowners' willing to pony up for that?


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