Residents of a Santa Paula condo complex called the NewsChannel Three Tipline looking for justice.
They said two former officers of their homeowners association stole all of their money and skipped town. Despite proving their case in court, they can only watch as their neighborhood slowly deteriorates. They also believe the criminal justice system has let them down.
“It’s been a long fight, very long,” said Joyce Holifield.
Holifield took over as treasurer of the Marin Road Owners Association in October, 2010.
“When I took over there was $9.73 in the account,” said Holifield.
She also discovered their fire insurance coverage had lapsed more than a year before because the previous treasurer didn’t pay the premiums and didn’t tell anyone. Holifield also said all of the accounting books were missing.
“To this date, we have not received any of those books,” said Holifield.
Holifield says Gladys and Victor Orozco have them. Court records show Victor was the HOA’s president and Gladys was the treasurer. Holifield and the other residents say they asked the Orozco’s, who had moved to Riverside County by now, to return the books.
“But she gave us excuses, ‘Oh, had a wreck,’ ‘Don’t have a car,’ ‘Can’t afford to this week,’ ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with the books,'” described Holifield.
“I just didn’t think anyone would do this and then I thought it was dumb on our part not to be checking the books,” said Betty Roina.
Roina took over as the HOA’s secretary in 2009 shortly after the Orozco’s left town. She immediately saw red flags.
“The first time I found out was when our neighbor across the street told me the gardener went to him saying a check bounced,” said Roina.
Without the books, Holifield had to reconstruct the HOA’s financial records one document at a time. Luckily, she had experience. At one point, she had worked for the County Auditors Office. Eventually, she was able to prove how Victor and Gladys Orozco stole the money. A third party auditor verified it.
“What she would do is, she would take all of our money and deposit them. And as she needed money to live on or whatever, because the amounts are so different we don’t know. She would take out cash monthly over a period of three years.”
In all, the Orozco’s stole more than $22,000 from their neighbors at Marin Road.
“All of this wood here needs to be replaced because of the termites,” said Holifield as she pointed to a wall by a neighbor’s front door.
The eaves are rotting away, the paint is peeling off and it’s clear maintenance has been put off for years, because the association doesn’t have the money. The Orozco’s refused to talk with NewsChannel Three for this story. Meanwhile, Gladys Orozco is selling real estate now.
“And that’s the part that really makes us angry and upset. She’s out selling homes, getting profits on her side and never once tried to give us anything,” said Holifield.
“I would just say, ‘How could you do that to us? And I never thought you’d be doing anything like that and we’d like our money back,'” said Roina.
NewsChannel Three did try to get the Orozco’s side of the story, but Gladys hung up on us several times. At one point, she texted to say that she would contact an attorney, but we’ve never heard back.
The HOA won a court judgement for $28,000 in 2013. The residents could try to place liens on the Orozco’s property, if they have any or attach wages, which they are considering.
You may be wondering why there was no criminal prosecution? It appears Santa Paula police dropped the ball and now the statute of limitations has passed.
This story is far from over. We will continue to follow it and let you know if the folks on Marin Road get their money.
Here are some resources for anyone who has questions about the rules and regulations of homeowners associations in California: