In a recent development, Jesus Daniel Sotelo, the former general manager of Villas West, is facing serious legal issues. An indictment on eight felony charges, including one count of theft and seven counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, alleges that Sotelo embezzled thousands of dollars from multiple entities. The accusations extend beyond the Green Valley Villas Condominium Association (Villas West) to include five other homeowners associations (HOAs) in the Tucson area: Moondance Estates, River Park, Canyon Crest, Serenidad, and Arcadia Square. Sotelo is also accused of misappropriating funds from Professional Practice Strategies, a bookkeeping service based in Tucson.
Financial Wrongdoings Unveiled
The indictment, dated December 22, outlines the period of malfeasance as spanning from July 30, 2018, through September 30, 2021. During this time, Sotelo allegedly deposited funds belonging to the aforementioned entities into his personal bank account. The stolen amount is reported to be $25,000 or more.
While the indictment provides a broad overview, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court sheds more light on the specifics of Sotelo’s alleged actions. The condo association, in its lawsuit filed in Pima County Superior Court, accuses Sotelo of stealing checks intended for vendors, altering the amounts, and depositing them into his Wells Fargo account. The association contends that Sotelo created fake invoices to cover his tracks, ultimately embezzling nearly $235,000 through this scheme. Additionally, checks made out to the association itself were purportedly stolen and deposited, amounting to almost $69,000.
Legal Proceedings and Bank Involvement
Despite the legal action taken against Sotelo, he remains free, subject to monitoring by Pima County’s pretrial services. Meanwhile, the lawsuit against both banks involved, Wells Fargo and Washington Federal Bank (now WaFd Bank), introduces another layer of complexity to the case.
The association alleges that Wells Fargo failed in its duties by allowing Sotelo to deposit checks not made out to him and lacking proper endorsements. Washington Federal Bank contends that the case should be dismissed, pointing out that Villas West failed to report concerns for over a year. The bank argues that, according to the agreement between Villas West and the bank, claims against unauthorized transactions are void if not reported within 30 days.
Conclusion: Banks’ Role in the Alleged Embezzlement
As the legal proceedings unfold, questions arise about the role of the banks in these financial wrongdoings. Villas West’s attorney, Scott Zwillinger, asserts that the banks played a significant role by not following competent security practices and failing to identify the apparent fraud. This emphasizes the need for financial institutions to exercise vigilance and adhere to security protocols to prevent such incidents.