Holly Lake residents accuse HOA treasurer of wrongful profit

Article and Video Courtesy of Local 10 News

By Bob Norman   

Published January 11, 2015

 Watch VIDEO


Many South Floridians live under the rules of homeowners associations -- non-profit organizations that govern neighborhoods. But what happens when a board member profits from his position? That's what some neighbors are saying and telling investigative reporter Bob Norman is happening in their community-- and they are fighting back big time. "You want your community back -- you have to show up and vote."


The owners gathered in the dark of the night, rebelling against their homeowners' association. "We shouldn't be bullied by anyone -- and neither should you!"

At the center of the storm is Paul Morales, the board's treasurer, who hung back in the shadow of the night during this meeting. The residents accuse him of wrongfully profiting from his position in the non-profit corporation. When I tried to get answers from Morales, he quickly walked away -- and the board president blocked my path. It all happened on public property. 

The owners claim that Morales and his business associates sold and rented numerous properties in the neighborhood, which they say is a conflict of interest, since Morales and the board have the power to screen and reject buyers. "Here is not one thing you can do with your house without his approval," resident Terry Moody said. "When you're on the board, it shouldn't be right."


A previous owner, facing liens from the HOA, deeded his property to the Holly Lake HOA, Then, last January Holly Lake deeded the property over to Paul Morales for $ 11,000 -- a pretty good deal considering that the land alone is assessed at $ 14,000. Morales then sold the house at an unknown price.

When one of the owners complained about Morales, the board began writing him up with a number of violations which he largely successfully fought off. "They tried to intimidate me and shut me down!" 

Resident Mary Anne Palimino said that the board tried to block them from buying a home for no legitimate reason. "My credit score was just fine. I have no criminal record.

Morales shouldn't even be on the board. Board members should be background-checked like every other potential buyer or renter.

Morales had a felony case filed against him in 2000 alleging fraud and theft in a home sale he brokered. A case that was later dropped for unknown reasons.

I tried to ask Morales later at the Holly Lake clubhouse about the purchase. He blocked my efforts claiming that I was not given permission to report here. "You're on private property!"

Morales and the board president have announced that they are not seeking reelection to their position. New officers will be sworn in this coming Saturday.