NORTH FORSYTH — The treasurer of a north Forsyth homeowners association was arrested this week for reportedly stealing more than $40,000 from the neighborhood bank account.
Elizabeth Mills Wilson, 32, has been charged with felony theft, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. She was released Monday from the Forsyth County Detention Center after posting an $11,110 bond.
According to an initial sheriff’s report, Wilson withdrew $38,686.46 over an 18-month span. But Nadeen Koffel, a fellow resident of The Manor at Harmon Lake who was asked to audit the homeowners association’s account after Wilson vacated her post, said a more recent and detailed look revealed it was closer to $43,000.
A motive for the theft was not immediately known. Since late September, Wilson has reportedly paid back about 80 percent of the missing money, according to authorities.
“It’s unfortunate as a social issue,” Koffel said. “You can’t question neighbors, and [she’s] someone in finance that anybody would trust her bringing her on. She didn’t volunteer [for treasurer]. She was asked by the HOA.”
Despite some public misconceptions, Wilson is not a blood relative of current County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills. Commissioner Mills said there’s frequent confusion that stems from the fact that she and Wilson’s mother have the same first name.
The Manor’s HOA president, Clint Smith, said he discovered the theft in mid-September after investigating claims from the neighborhood landscaping company that it had not been paid.
“At no point in time did I realize what was going on,” Smith said. “[Wilson] has a finance degree. We had no problem entrusting her as our treasurer. It’s what she does as a living.”
According the both Smith and the sheriff’s report, Wilson had completed “numerous transactions” over the 18 months.
She and Smith both joined the association’s board in April 2013.
After a report was filed with the sheriff’s office, Smith discovered the association owed about $9,000 to the landscaping company and other vendors.
The account had apparently been liquidated down to about $1,000 without any payments made “in months.”
The board removed Wilson as treasurer on Sept. 18, Smith said, and informed her that the neighborhood would be assessed dues if she didn’t pay back at least the debt. She deposited a check Sept. 25.
A new treasurer has since filled the vacancy.
Smith said the board informed the neighborhood of the incident at a Sept. 18 meeting.
“My exact words were that, ‘We filed a police report, they’re investigating it, and she has paid a vast majority of the money back,’” Smith said.
The Manor has some 60 homes, he said. About 50 of those were represented in a vote Sept. 25 on whether to pursue Wilson’s prosecution. Only two voted no.
“I don’t want it to be perceived that we’re throwing her to the wolves because we’re not,” Smith said. “I’ve prayed for her, and I’m trying to do what’s right. But also there was a crime committed, and there needs to be justice served for that crime.”
The investigation took some time because detectives had to process forensic evidence and paperwork from several banks.