A Florida woman who stole more than $365,000 from her homeowner’s association admitted the theft to a Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective and said the situation “snowballed,” turned herself in at the Lake County Jail.
Joan Marie Yasuko Baskett, 56, was elected secretary of the Ranch Club Homeowner’s Association and filled the role of treasurer, after the elected treasurer asked her to, according to a probable cause affidavit. In May of this year, the HOA president filed a report with LCSO after discovering a large sum missing from HOA bank accounts.
An LCSO detective reviewed the accounts and found more than $121,000 worth of Zelle transfers with variations of Baskett’s name, the affidavit states. “Zelle is an easy way to send money directly between almost any U.S. bank accounts typically within minutes… With just an email address or mobile phone number, you can quickly, safely and easily send and receive money with more people, regardless of where they bank,” according to the company’s website.
The detective also found more than $97,000 worth of checks written to Baskett and checks written to her husband as double payments for landscape work, according to the affidavit; the HOA also found other transactions unrelated to HOA expenses. The thefts from the three HOA accounts totaled $365,754.80, the affidavit states.
Baskett, who currently lives in Orlando, spoke with the detective at her current home and admitted to the thefts, “due to personal financial difficulties,” according to the affidavit. She said she used the funds to pay her mortgage and other bills and it “snowballed.”
A warrant was issued for Baskett’s arrest and she turned herself in at LCJ on one count of grand theft, more than $100,000. She was released on $10,000 bond.