A former Bayfield woman is suspected of stealing more than $75,000 from her homeowners association over the course of about 12 years, according to the Bayfield Marshal’s Office.
Wendy Crane, 42, appeared Monday in La Plata County Court to be advised of a summons and complaint accusing her of theft, a fourth-degree felony. Formal charges are expected to be filed Oct. 21.
Crane answered routine questions from La Plata County Judge Anne Woods with “yes, ma’am,” and “yes, your honor.”
Efforts to reach Crane after the hearing were unsuccessful.
Crane is suspected of completing multiple money transfers from the Clover Meadows HOA bank account into her personal account, said Brandon Tisher, interim marshal for the Bayfield Marshal’s Office.
Crane served on the board of directors for the HOA.
“2010 was the start of when she started making transfers, and it looks like right around the first part of 2022 is when the accounts were closed,” he said.
She made several transfers over the years, some for hundreds of dollars and others for thousands of dollars, he said. It wasn’t like she was skimming money on a regular basis; rather, the transfers were more frequent during some periods of time and less active during others.
Tisher is unsure why Crane took the money or how she used it. As of last week, she had not yet been interviewed by an investigator.
“Everything that he (the investigator) got was from search warrants,” Tisher said.
Clover Meadows residents who attended Monday’s advisement hearing told The Durango Herald they feel betrayed by her actions. They paid about $156 per year in HOA dues, which was supposed to be available to maintain water services, in the event of an emergency or if major improvements needed to be made, they said.
The subdivision has about 65 homes.
“It’s disappointing to learn we can’t trust our neighbors as much as we thought we could,” said Benjamin Ferrier, a resident.
Richey Weinstein, another resident, said it was a difficult decision to pursue charges against a fellow neighbor, “but there was a line that was crossed, and I think it really took us by surprise.”
The saddest part of the episode is that neighbors rallied to support Crane in 2015 when her 12-year-old daughter, Aria, died from Hodgkin’s disease, said Richey’s wife, Wendi Weinstein.
Ferrier urged HOA residents to be involved, make sure annual meetings are held and to request financial statements at those meetings. Things got to a point in which Crane was running the board by herself without checks and balances, he said.
“In Small Town America, you just kind of take for granted that we’re all upstanding people,” he said. “… To me, it’s the abuse of trust that bothers me more than the money.”