An Honor and an Elderblogger Invitation

A Shocking Crime

category_bug_journal2.gif It is Sunday as I sit at my computer ready to work on Monday's post. There was a different idea rolling around in my head, but my mind won't leave another matter alone. It darkens my thoughts and leaves my body feeling leaden - even four days after the event.

I am no naif. I know bad things happen. During my years living in New York City, my apartments were robbed five times. You feel punched in gut, invaded, assaulted - even raped, if only virtually – arriving home to find doors or windows broken, possessions tossed in disarray, items stolen. Bile rises as you work your way through police reports, mountains of paper for the insurance company and the tedious work of putting your home in good order again.

You want to lash out - how dare anyone trash your private sanctuary. Even as you remind yourself that at least you were not home to be attacked and injured, you want vengeance, but you are impotent. There is no one to blame. In New York, no robber is ever caught. In time, however, you forget.

Now I have learned there is a worse kind of invasion: when the person who has perpetrated it is known to you - a neighbor, if not a friend.

I live in a tiny condominium. Three apartments, three owners. There is no management company. We three are the management. We three are the board of directors. We three divide the work of upkeep, repairs and other responsibilities of cooperative home ownership.

Among my contributions is banking which is minimal. There is one deposit a month of our three maintenance payments and no more than three or four checks to be written each month. So I was shocked last week to open a bank statement with ten pages containing hundreds of withdrawals, decimating the account.

Assuming there had been a computer glitch, perhaps mixing up the condominium account with someone's personal account, I stopped by the bank the following morning to sort out the problem. After a couple of hours of computation and investigation with a bank official, I was shocked to find that every debit was legitimate, having been taken by my downstairs neighbor (co-owner) who is, as all three of us are, a signatory on the account. As such, he had deliberately obtained a debit card and embezzled nearly $5500, nearly all of the balance in the account.

Crabby Old Lady has told you about this young man before. In my three years in this apartment, he has thought up more abuses than I could ever imagine one person could invent:

  • Dozens of loud, all-night parties so that I have never gone to bed knowing I can sleep uninterrupted until morning

  • Liquor bottles and cigarette butts from party guests left on the porch and sidewalk, never cleaned up without coercion

  • Allowing his dog to crap and pee in the basement and leaving the excrement there for months

  • Ditto the backyard

  • Leaving the dog to bark for four, five, six and more hours without let up

  • Open garbage bags left to rot in the driveway for weeks

  • Parking behind my car in the driveway dozens of times and refusing to answer his phone or door

  • Advertising his apartment for overnight rental on Craigslist resulting in sketchy characters with keys to the apartment house and their own all-night parties

Little did I know that these abuses and irresponsibility would become minor events – in comparison to embezzlement.

After I informed the third owner of the downstairs neighbor's theft, we consulted with an attorney and the police, and decided on a plan of action to recover the condominium's money. The neighbor and his father, who is a co-owner of the apartment, have been given a deadline to deliver a certified check this week. Should it not be delivered or if it is even five minutes late, I will already be on my way to the district attorney to request an investigation of the embezzlement. The bank has assured their cooperation in any legal proceeding.

Personally, I want the kid prosecuted with or without restitution, but the other co-owner thinks recovering the money is enough and he is undoubtedly correct. I am meaner than many people about those who violate the trust necessary for a civilized society to exist; I support life in prison without possibility of parole instead of the death penalty not on moral grounds, but because I believe people who do unforgivable things to others should suffer for as long as possible.

And thus, I do not think restitution is enough punishment for the co-owner who was entrusted with access to the condominium account. That is only money and I would prefer to have a felony on his record that will haunt the rest of his life. But unless the check is not delivered, I will go along with recovery of the funds as enough.

Our plan is a good one and I'm pretty sure the money will be delivered on time since the father, who says he did not know of the embezzlement, seems worried about the possibility of legal action.

Nevertheless, this dark, deadening dullness has pervaded my waking hours since the actuality of what happened hit me last Wednesday at the bank. It is almost like having a loved one die; I awaken cheerfully each morning, eager for the day – then I remember. And underneath that dullness is seething anger that will not lift.

You would think I'm old enough at 68 to handle this better.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, the story of another, understandable thievery from Friko titled, Stealing Coal.


I totally understand the feelings you describe. The betrayal of trust, my trust, I have been processing more than a few years. That the betrayers are family makes the matter even worse for me. And I fault myself for trusting too much, ignoring red flags (not unlike the perpetrator's character defects already documented on TGB). I can't believe I'm planning to sign up for a local university continuing education seminar: "Never be lied to again." I am that eager to cast wide the net on better setting boundaries and honoring more my instincts. While I don't blame myself or anyone for being taken, lied to, hoodwinked, robbed, I now know that responding appropriately and quickly to unpleasant signs can spare me much pain, and that retribution shortens my life... draining it by rage, vengeance, self-righteousness. I can't control the world... just a smidgen of me.

The rage and sense of violation comes through loud and clear in this post, Ronni. So clear, in fact, that I am very angered for you and cannot come up with any "words of wisdom" to help you over this incident.

The best I can think of is to get some sort of quick closure for the affair and try to put it out of your mind as soon as and as best as you can.

After this, the most egregious of a string of insults, is there any chance of getting rid of this guy? I would think he and his father would be ashamed to show their faces.

That's a new lesson in learning about psycho sexual deformities.
Hindsight you did the best you could with forethought and objection, your civility was usurped by arrogant indignance of a neighbor. How do victim's pass perpetrator's in common areas? This one example joins the timeless miliue of why it is clichéd "In God We Trust all others pay cash" There is ample fodder for continuum, Fred Roger's just popped in.


Don't know if it will help,

Chit with ya',Whenever
Peter Lott Heppner
Alley Patron

The condo set up sounds like a bad idea from the beginning, it's asking three strangers to organize and work as a team, with a joint bank account? I have never bought a condo but I would expect such things to be run by an outside company.
I am afraid this person has ruined your enjoyment of your new home and it is too bad. The parents are just paying so he isn't with them!

Having owned a condo I know that bad things can happen in the best-managed setups, with or without third-party management. Condo life is fraught with both risk and rewards, and as the rhyme goes a good condo situation is very very good and a bad one is just horrid.

I certainly feel for you Ronni, what an awful thing! I would be in the same state too. I hope you get some sort of resolution in the end.

zuleme: It is not affordable in small condominiums to hire a management company. Our maintenance payments would double, triple or more and that is not realistic or feasible relative to the value of our homes and further, would make them unsalable in relation to similar properties.

There are thousands of small condominiums run this way and I was part of one in New York for 23 years that worked successfully.

This is not poor organization on our part; it is criminal behavior that can happen in any circumstance.

I am with you, Ronni. Prosecute the little b*****d and get a conviction, hopefully, on his record. If you have to put up with him on the account change it so that any withdrawal has to have at least two signatures. I know what you mean about feeling violated. My late ex-husband did something similar and then had the nerve to look hurt when I left and filed for divorce. Unfortunately, I have to look back and realize that I enabled his bad behavior by letting him get away with similar acts throughout our 20+ year marriage. That young man's father is an enabler but there is no reason for you to be also.

Ronni, get his name off the account. You have cause. He cannot be trusted. And, I would negotiate with his father and add he must vacate the premises immediately as part of the negotiation to avoid prosecution.

Use this to your advantage. And, you will be rid of him!

You are never too old to feel violated and I don't blame you one bit. I might be inclined to murder in that situation. I hope you can get your money back and that you can force him out of the building.

Ronni, I'm so sorry. My home means the world to me, as it does, maybe, for many single people; it takes on a character and personality and becomes a partner in one's life.

I second Nancy B. If he doesn't want to be prosecuted, he has to move. From here, given the long-time hassle this guy has caused, it seems like a wise course even if you have to do it alone--if, of course, you can bear it. If you can, perhaps some good will come of this.

yeah....i agree with nancy b: get his name OFF the account and his backside OFF the premises entirely. this is an outrageous experience, and i sympathize entirely. in my former condo association, we had a young neighbor who was not quite that bad, but in many ways he was even worse, since his nastiness was precisely administered and personal--e.g., his dog didn't crap in the ground floor, but he'd leave bags of dog poop between the outer and inner doors of certain residents out of weird spite. god rest his soul, he died of some kind of congenital heart malformation, and he's gone for good. sad for him and his family, but what a relief for those in the condo association!! i empathize completely with your feelings of helplessness and frustration. good luck!

I'm with you--prosecute. This young, irresponsible, larcenous guy has to be made to accept responsibility for his behavior.
Settling for just the amount of his embezzlement will teach him nothing and give him the opportunity to produce future victims.

His "normal" behavior is too dangerous to have to live with.

He is long removed from the account and the account has been closed.

As to removing him - can't throw someone out of their own home...

There doesn’t seem to be a cutoff age for the feelings you describe. Hope you’re able to rid yourself of this guy once and for all!

From previous accounts of the young twit, it sounds to me like the father is almost as much a part of the crime as the son. Understandable that he doesn't want to cope with the young man; inexcusable that he makes you do it.

I don't know what you do with the feelings. They hurt.

Isn't it ironic that some steal something worth a dollar and go to prison for years; and yet if you are in certain economic levels, you can just replace what you stole. It does seem unfair and we are asked to turn the other way on unfairness so often. I hope you can move soon as this does not sound like a healthy situation to live that close to someone who is basically a sociopath...

I'm so very sorry Ronnie. The kid needs prosecuting, I'm sorry to say. Sounds like he needs a good program to get clean and sober too.

Ronni, I am so sorry, what a personal violation as well as a legal one. Not sure what I'd do in your shoes. Is there a way to negotiate his never setting foot on the premises again as well as restitution as a trade for not prosecuting? I'd be concerned he might get probation (white collar crime etc.) and then come home to be a total pain to you, like the total bugger he is.

I am so sorry and understand your outrage and anger. I'm outraged and angry just reading about it. His father is an enabler and the son a SOB. I agree with others suggesting that his moving out of the condo be part of the not prosecuting deal. If he had any sense of decency he would have slunk away the minute his crime was discovered.

Again, so sorry this happened.

I like Nancy B.'s idea. The kid is a spoiled brat and should be prosecuted. It's about time -- nay, overdue -- that he kid get a serious reality check.

I think I've met him and his parents who rush in with the checkbook and save their little darling who can do no wrong. I saw a lot of that when my kids were growing up.

One of them is a guest of the state of Ohio for the rest of his life. Last time I checked, bank fraud means jsil time. Go for it.

Just found out a good friend has betrayed his wife, and gave money to his female "old friend" in the tens of thousands of dollars. I've known them for 16 years, they've been married over 20. It's really rough to find out what people are capable of. And to have to watch a friend go through it.

Sorry you have to go through this.

I'm sorry, too, Ronni. I do hope you can move past the pain soon. That's nasty stuff. Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with it in many many years.

I agree that he should be prosecuted. I understand why you can't throw him out. I'm wondering if it would possible to make the threat of prosecution into a hammer to force his father to buy you out. Then you could go to the Portland in which you really want to live.

Good luck in whatever processes follow.

I think what you are demanding is quite fair to him.

What an immature so and so! I agree with other posters, and you I think, that his father is enabling his behavior. Did he think his theft would not be noticed? That it would not have ramifications? He should have grown up by now. Kicking him out might help him grow up. This is unfortunately a job for his father, who does not seem up to it.

I can imagine how you feel. Powerful feelings of betrayal and anger. Riding those feelings is like riding a speeding car careening over very bumpy road, fearing you might lose control.

On the other hand your anger has given you strength to deal with this issue. After this is over, you may find yourself depleted. So, I hope for your sake it is over quickly.

When you get to the other side of this, make plans to give yourself some respite. In other words please take care of yourself.

God bless.

How horrible, Ronni. I'm with zuleme in regards to sharing accounts with others. While I am sure that this once worked just fine, anymore, with the criminal awareness, interest, education and instant access what it is these days - you might be better investing the small amount necessary to draw up an LLC: "LLCs may be either member-managed or manager-managed. A member-managed LLC may be governed by a single class of members (in which case it approximates a partnership) or multiple classes of members (in which case it approximates a limited partnership). Choosing manager management creates a two-tiered management structure that approximates corporate governance with the managers typically holding powers similar to corporate officers and directors. The LLC's operating agreement (the LLC version of a partnership agreement or a corporation's bylaws) determines how the LLC is managed. Corporations, S-corporations, Limited Liability Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Limited Partnerships, and LLCs lie along a spectrum of flexibility with LLCs being the most flexible, and thus preferable, for many businesses." That is from wikipedia. As I understand it, an accountant can set one up for you in a few hours. At any rate, may your home return to its peaceful former haven to you soon....

All has been said. Just want to add I am so sorry you had to experience this.

I share your outrage and can empathize. I firmly believe in accountability and this jerk needs a lasting lesson. Letting him off the hook by having his father pay him out of jail just means he will do it (or worse) again.

The police never did anything as far as I can tell about investigating my theft last November. I am still furious that the guy(s) who stole from me right under my nose never had to pay the price, nor did the company that hired them. I had to file a claim on my own insurance ($500 deductible , of course) and go through what you went through in Greenwich Village when you were robbed.

There 'otta be a law. (Of course, there are laws but they do no good if the perps aren't prosecuted.)

It's tough having to handle this kind of mess on your own. I am so sorry this happened to you.

Oh No Ronni Your gut reaction is exactly right. I would already have had this person arrested. Considering sll the other childish, irresponsible things he has already done he needs to be punished. Otherwise he will never change and he will just keep on taking advantage of you, your other neighbor and his hapless father. Moreover, he needs to move. He obviously cannot be trusted.

Consult an attorney. If you do not want to pay for one then check legal aid.

I am so mad I could spit nails about this jerk taking advantrage of you. If he would do this he will do ANYTHING.

Your other neighbor is much too gullible and easy going.

You have every right to feel violated. You were violated and this will not be the last of his shenanigans.


Oh, Ronni, what a terrible experience!

You are handling it great, though. Condos can be great when they work and terrible when something like this happens, because it colors your whole view of your life at home.

That will pass, though. You will deal well with whatever comes--the father with the money (sigh!), or the district attorney. You'll open a new account with you and the honest neighbor.

You are handling it fine. Anyone in this situation would seeth!

My suggestion is to rent your condo and make a hasty exit to the place of your dreams...be it Portland OR, or for example ...where I live in S CA. My husband and I love our 55+DelWebb community with 80+ chartered clubs with activities galore, as well as 3, yes that is three fully equipped clubhouses. Amenities include pools, fitness center, walking track, restaurants, and our own post office! And, it is not expensive.. Email me for more info.
So sorry you are having this experience. Life is too short, get away from it.

I feel outraged for you Ronni. I didn't read all the comments above but co-signing on withdrawals perhaps so one of you can't embezzle in future?

" I am meaner than many people about those who violate the trust necessary for a civilized society to exist;"

Especially when their dog craps and pisses in a common area. I'm not there and am reluctant to give advice, but I sure can understand the impulse to prosecute and get him out of your life.

I understand your frustration. My son was riding his bike to work two weeks ago and was hit by a hit-and-run driver. The woman got out of her car and looked at him, unconscious on the road, got back in her car and drove away. A witness called the ambulance but didn't get enough details on the driver for the police to find her. His neck, back and ankle were broken (no paralysis luckily.) He'll be OK.

I am disheartened when bad people happen to good people. I hope things work out for you.

Wouldn't it be good if the father was concerned enough not only to pay the money back, but also to move his son to another apartment. Guess there is no chance of making that one of the conditions of not prosecuting... she says wistfully.

Bummer. Wish you could move West!

Oh Ronni that is awful....why are some people so mean and rotten? How about getting the sob evicted...can you say Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown etc.? Hope you can get this resolved!!!

If your three-person group functions as a homeowner's association, you may be able to slap a lien on the property for violation of the group's rules. As informal as the arrangement sounds, though, possibly you don't have any rules but rely on the hope that all the residents will exhibit common decency.

In the current economic client, it will be difficult to unload the place, especially if the kid continues to make a nuisance of himself. In my state, you would be obligated by law to reveal something like this to a potential buyer, meaning that you wouldn't have a snowball's chance of selling.

If there's any way to get him out of there, possibly by negotiating with the father, that's what I'd do. If you do get the twerp out, you and the surviving neighbor should organize as an HOA with formal rules and the power to fine violators.

If he's stealing money and constantly throwing loud parties, chances are he and his friends are into drugs. At the first sign that a cop could use as probably cause, call the police and report it.

Also, when the kid is making noise at night, call the police--in most communities it's against the law to disturb the peace after a certain hour.

As for the dog...

a) Leaving the animal to cry all day and night is animal abuse. In most places that's against the law. Call the county animal control people or the SPCA. In some municipalities, a barking dog constitutes a violation of the peace; call the police and find out. If it's illegal where you live, report him to the cops every time the dog barks.

b) Letting the animal use the basement as its toilet has got to violate public health laws. Find out what agency administers public health issues--city, state, county--and complain insistently until something is done about it.

At the very least, you can get him and his co-purchasing dad fined until they decide to cut their losses.

Meanwhile, put an extra lock on your door and, if you don't have your own separate garage, park your car off the property.

Ronni, I sincerely hope you are well into your plan to move to Oregon and leave this situation behind. Please be proactive in your security and relocation arrangements. People have been hurt for far less money than this guy has stolen. Watch your back.


He has to go. I don't care how. I don't care about his "feelings" or helicopter dad who is obviously paying his son to go away.

It has become quite common for some parents to pay blackmail.

Imagine that.

The bonehead has made your life miserable since day one.

The selfish, partying shoot disturber should have his body rolled in chicken fat and chased from here to Mexico by a herd of slavering pit bulls on crack.

He must be evicted, legally, using all your evidence and not be allowed to breathe anywhere near the premises, once his sorry arse is gone.

Ronni,you are strong enough to make this happen. You have the bank on your side, plus age and experience. Here is where it counts.

You also have the father looking embarrassed and don't forget your delicious power of writing.

Once this tsunami is over, choose your next home carefully- in Portland, Oregon.

If there are any lawyers here or BIG DUDES with muscles, ooooh I'd love them to bust down the jerk's door and play hopscotch on his peanut head.

Ronni, you don't deserve this, but you have an online army supporting you.

Let us all know how it turns out.

Am late to the group outrage. Just wanted to express my own outrage and sadness on the situation.

In the late '80s, I lived in a garden apartment in Arlington, VA. I lived in the middle apartment with a woman above me and a man below. The woman was a jumper. She jumped on her bed and sounded like she jumped on her couch and literally galloped between the rooms. I asked her politely to not jump and to walk normally, sent letters to management, all to no avail. I didn't move for 8 years because I loved my apartment and its location and price.

After I did move, I was amazed at how it was like a BIG weight had been lifted from me. Looking back, this was nothing compared to what you have to endure every day. I hope with all my heart you don't have to wait as long as I did to get out of your situation. It must be gut wrenching as having seen photos of your condo, it is just so lovely and perfect.

Hope you can find some peace this week.

You should use the threat of prosecution as leverage against the Dad. He's probably been paying the bills for "sonny boy" for a long time. The potential expense of a legal defense may be enough for him to move the punk out.

I'm really late to this outrage party. I feel just sick that you're having these continual violations. I thought the problem guy was downstairs originally, then I thought I read something here that identified the upstairs guy as a problem. Now this, and it's downstairs again. I'm confused, but it all sounds just horrible.

This is precisely why I'm leery about moving into a condo or apt from my home, nor do I want to be in a setting of all older people. But that's another whole topic about options.

Yeah, I agree you should watch your back and your car. The idea of the need for disclosure when you sell really emphasizes the need to get this guy out of the apt. If the only way is a lockup and he's somehow prevented from moving back in, then do it! Problem is he probably wouldn't be locked up very long. No reason to be kind and compassionate here. Use whatever force available to pressure the owner Dad to remove the son and maybe even unload the condo -- or hopefully to rent to a more decent sort. Setup any kind of ownership group legally you can with rules enabling his being forced out if he violates them.

Wish you were out of there -- back to NYC or off to Oregon.

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