BERLIN — Late Thursday afternoon, a Worcester County Grand Jury indicted Berlin businessman Bill Scott, president of Scott and Company, which advertised itself as a public accounting and property management firm, on six counts of theft and theft scheme for allegedly bilking several resort area condominium associations and individuals out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Scott faces six total counts including three counts related to his alleged theft scheme carried out against various condominium associations in and around the Ocean City area as well as three counts related to other individuals, for which he illegally signed or endorsed checks. He was taken into custody late yesterday and is being held on an $826,247 bond, which represents the sum total of the funds he allegedly absconded with from victims over the six counts in the grand jury indictment.
Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby said, late yesterday well after this week’s print edition deadline, Scott faces as many as 78 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $75,000.
Earlier this year, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) began probing alleged “account improprieties” carried out by Scott and his Scott and Company, Inc., which handled accounting and property management duties for several area condo associations. The investigation began when it came to light Scott and Company had allegedly bilked several area condo associations out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating and reserve account funds through a months-long pattern of misappropriation and fraud.
In the meantime, one of the condominium associations allegedly victimized by Scott and Co., the Assateague House Condominium Council of Unit Owners, through its attorney, earlier this month filed a civil suit in Worcester County Circuit Court seeking over $1 million in damages.
Assateague House is seeking $437,417 in compensatory damages, representing the figure Scott allegedly misappropriated from the association through various schemes, along with $100,000 in “special consequential damages.” In addition, Assateague House is seeking $500,000 in punitive damages against Scott. Similar lawsuits are reportedly imminent.
According to the complaint, Assateague House hired Scott in June 2008 to do the accounting for the condo association and perform certain other management functions including collecting fees and assessments, making bank deposits, paying bills, keeping financial records and other fiscal duties. However, the association soon began to notice irregularities with its accounting and financial records.
The complaint contends three separate Assateague House accounts were targeted during the scheme including the association’s operating account, a construction account and a reserve account. At first, it appeared the misappropriations came in the form of direct payments to Scott and Co., but later forensic accountants allege Scott began to shuffle funds from Assateague House to another client he handled, the San Remo condominium association.
According to the complaint, it appears Scott was carrying out his misappropriation scheme at several of the condo associations he handled and was shuffling funds between various accounts in an effort to cover the shortfalls.
The largest of Scott’s alleged improprieties came from Assateague House’s money market reserve account, from which $325,791 in direct checks to the company were drawn. In addition, the complaint alleges Scott misappropriated $73,600 from Assateague House’s construction account.
According to the complaint, Scott and Co. also caused unauthorized advances to be made upon Assateague House’s open line of credit with PNC Bank totaling $125,000.