Where did the money go?
Woman arrested for theft of nearly $30,000 from Wood Co. HOA
By Stephanie Frazie
Wood County, Texas
25 September 2015

A Winnsboro woman was arrested Thursday for theft of property greater than $20,000 after she reportedly stole money that belonged to her homeowners' association.

Letha Anna Thomas, age 48, of Winnsboro, was arrested after an investigation by Sgt. Jacob Richardson. The sheriff's office says that Richardson had been looking into a case in which a representative of the Big Wood Springs Homeowners Association reported that around $30,000 had been stolen from the association's bank accounts.

checks were written to Thomas’ family members

Richardson identified a suspect, Letha Thomas, and determined that approximately $18,500 was spent by Thomas in the form of checks she wrote. It was discovered that Thomas wrote multiple checks that were not authorized by the association's board of directors. Richardson discovered that the checks were written to Thomas' family members. He also discovered that a credit card had been compromised as well, and around $10,000 was charged on that credit card.

The sheriff's office says that the thefts occurred over a 26-month period. On September 24, Thomas was arrested and booked into the Wood County Jail. She was charged with theft of property more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 . Bond was set at $7,500.

As of Friday afternoon, she was no longer in the Wood County Jail.


HOA theft victims say ‘We've been kept in the dark for years’
By Julia Jenať
Winnsboro, Texas
20 October 2015

An East Texas community says thousands were embezzled from their homeowners association account after years of not being shown financial records.

Letha Anna Thomas. (Source: Wood Co. Jail)

Last Thursday, authorities arrested Letha Anna Thomas for theft of approximately $30,000 that was reported as stolen from the Big Wood Springs Homeowners Association (HOA) bank account. Thomas served as the treasurer for the HOA.

Residents in this Winnsboro lake community of about 85 homes say the missing funds and arrest left them blindsided.

"We've been kept in the dark for three years," says Susan Humphreys who has been serving as the new treasurer for the past few weeks. "Now, it's all about building trust again."

Susan and her husband Sam Humphreys say for over a year they asked to see bank statements showing exactly where their monthly home owners association dues were going.  After being given excuses, Sam says a special HOA meeting was called.

all of the money is gone, we are broke

"The [former] HOA president tells us that [Thomas] had resigned and all of the money is gone, we are broke," Sam says. "It made me feel kind of sick and really misled."

Sam says he was also told at that meeting that Thomas was responsible for the missing funds.

The Wood County sheriff's office says the thefts occurred over a 26-month period before Thomas was arrested on September 24.

Judy Wagnor, a Big Wood Springs resident, says she also had been pushing to see financial records since she moved into the community a year ago.

"I could never get any of this information, there was always an excuse to why no one could provide this information for me, and I found it very odd," Wagnor says.

Residents say the funds are needed to go toward fixing large pot holes in their roads, a broken bridge, and necessary repairs to the dams that guard their signature lake.

"This is our future, this is everything that we are and for it to be ripped way because of thieving and bad management and bad choices," says Wagnor. "That's just not fair."

Mallory sessions, who has been on the HOA board since April says things will be run differently.

Before, everyone was focused on secrets

[We'll have] transparency, we want to have a community forum where every meeting is open, all the books are open," Sessions says. "Before, everyone was focused on secrets and doing stuff separately, there weren't board decisions together as a group."

It's a lesson learned that these neighbors hope will warn others.

"Do your homework, find out about your homeowners association," Wagnor says. "Know what's going on around you because most people don't know that an HOA is a public company and many here didn't know what was required of them."

Humphreys said many in the community are retired and on a fixed income.

"Thirty-five dollars a month is all we pay here for dues," Humphreys says. "It's going to take a long time to build $31,000 back up again."

Sessions says that they are now requiring background checks on all members who serve on the board.

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