Summit County man sentenced to 90 days of jail for embezzling from HOA
A former financial administrator for the Enclave Homeowners Association, Robert Dwight Polich was sentenced to 90 days of prison and four years of probation on Monday, July 18, after pleading guilty to class-four felony theft. Polich, 62, was accused of stealing $160,000 from the HOA in 2008.
“There have been a few relatively high-profile embezzlement cases recently … none of which was recovered or recoverable — all of which resulted in prison sentences of a modest duration,” Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson said. “What distinguishes this case from those cases is that Mr. Polich has returned the money. But, the return of the money does not solve the problem. There are other consequences.”
Polich had served as a financial manager for the Keystone-based HOA since it was founded in 1986. After an external audit in 2014 revealed $160,000 missing from the HOA’s surplus, he was accused of embezzling the money in 2008. While the Enclave had ordered an external audit every year, the discrepancy was not discovered, as he appeared to have doctored the HOA’s annual budgets to show the $160,000 in the accounts.
Later in 2010, he lent $50,000 of the Enclave’s money to another homeowners association. The Enclave decided not to press charges since he had returned the missing funds by the time board members discovered the discrepancy.
Once again, in July of this year, he was charged with embezzling more than $500,000 from the Hamilton Creek Metropolitan District, located just outside of Silverthorne. The fraud was initially discovered by auditors in 2014 after he had worked for the district as a manager and accountant through his business, Mountain Systems, Inc., since the mid-90s.
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The charges against him from his involvement with Hamilton Creek were not considered in Monday’s sentencing, as they were filed at a later date.
“I know there is concern that there are charges pending against Mr. Polich,” Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said, “but he is innocent until proven guilty.”
Setting aside the most recent allegations, given his lack of criminal history, the Summit County Probation Office recommended four years of probation combined with a county jail sentence.
Prindle agreed with the recommendation, noting that while Polich had paid back all $160,000 to the Enclave, “That doesn’t make what he did right. Absolutely not.
“What concerns me is the position of trust Polich was in; this was a violation of that trust,” Prindle added. “The people seated behind me trusted Mr. Polich.”
Prindle gestured to the gallery, where members of the Enclave and the Hamilton Creek Metropolitan District filled the benches stretching to the back wall of the courtroom.
Moving to restitution
For the defense, Attorney Todd Barson of the Law Offices of Todd Barson, P.C., emphasized Polich’s efforts to make restitution.
“He has no criminal history. He’s made restitution in full,” Barson said. “The money was comingled and set aside. There was never a risk that the money would have been lost.”
He pushed for a 30-day county jail sentence.
“It’s psychologically debilitating to go through what he has, letting so many people down,” he added.
Polich stood to apologize to the member of the Enclave. He was not, however, able to address the members of Hamilton Creek at the sentencing.
“The Enclave at Keystone is a wonderful community. … I’ve been honored to work for them for numerous years,” he said. “I would like to sincerely apologize for my actions that violated the trust of the board.”
Per his probation terms, he will not be able to have any contact with the Enclave, manage or create a new business, must not have any open control of any bank or brokerage account, must disclose all current accounts to a probation officer and must disclose all tax returns from the last three years to the probation department. He is also mandated to 150 hours of community service.
He will begin serving his 90-day jail term on Aug. 28 and is work-release eligible.
“Nothing he did was voluntary,” said Ron Morey, President of the Enclave Board of Managers, in response to the sentencing. “It was the complaint filed against him that brought him forward.”
“My opinion is that this is difficult for either side,” Barson commented after the sentencing. “The important thing to go forward with is healing, accountability and forgiveness.”
A hearing regarding the allegations of embezzlement from Hamilton Creek was scheduled for Monday afternoon, but was postponed until Sept. 9, 2015, at 11:30 a.m.
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