FirstService Residential & Copper Ridge HOA board allegedly sends contradicting election documents to homeowners.
In an abysmal attempt to run a proper election process, the HOA board members of Copper Ridge Community, along with FirstService Residential and the HOA Attorneys, Frazier & Bowles, have allegedly created election documents that contradict themselves and confuse the homeowners. Allegedly, in an attempt to distort the process and obtain the ability to throw away ballots for being submitted improperly.
The election documents direct homeowners to submit election proxies and ballots in a manner that is inconsistent with their second set of directives for submitting the very same documents. Thereby, creating a confusing process for homeowners and the potential benefit that current sitting board members get to throw away homeowner’s votes.
In one instance of submission directions, the letter says, “Put the ballot envelope inside the proxy envelope and complete the return address portion, Sign, seal and return.” You can view a copy of this document here.
Unfortunately for homeowners of the Copper Ridge Community, they may be perplexed by the written instruction on the envelope window detachment slip that must be mailed back with the proxy. Very clearly the window detachment slip says, “PROXY RETURN ONLY”. A copy of this document has been provided here.
In an email to the Regional Director, Pauline Armas-Roux at FirstService Residential, a homeowner of the Copper Ridge Community, brought up this concern. The response provided by FirstService Residential’s Regional Director Pauline was that they would accept those ballots as well. In addition, she stated, that extra ballots and envelopes will be provided the day of the meeting and owners will be able to vote the day of the meeting.
In another instance, notice documents mailed to the homeowners of Copper Ridge Community stated that the meeting would begin at 6:00 p.m., (Link to document). However, in an email correspondence by Thomas Hirtzle, the Director of the Copper Ridge HOA board, stated that “It’s imperative at 6 pm sharp the FB [Farm Bureau] door is closed, and no further ballots will be accepted. Last year went on past the allotted time and Pauline and Moderator and FSR has everything in control.” You can view a copy of the email here.
Unfortunately for the Copper Ridge Community homeowners, the 2021 and 2022 election processes have been fraught with inconsistencies and unethical behavior, such as in 2021 when the Secretary of the HOA Carmen Maria Valdez allegedly used proxies that not only belonged to homeowners but also came with a ballot. After an audit by the homeowners, multiple confirmed proxies with ballots were used to the detriment of homeowners who ran for the election in 2021, potentially violating the voting rights of those homeowners who made that particular vote.
In addition, the HOA board then created last-minute election rules on March 22, 2022, which are currently under an appeal process to double the number of votes to meet a quorum, in an alleged attempt to maintain their seats. Providing a beneficial stance for the current sitting board members against anyone trying to run for their position. Only one board member, Telisha Catchings, is opposing this against all odds with the support of homeowners in the community.
One board member, Vice President Shaun Goeckner served for at least 15 years on the board while having a felony record during a portion of this period, which violated Sec. 720 of the Florida Statutes for up to 10 years between 2008 to 2018, which you can learn more about here.
On Nextdoor, the VP implied that he wasn’t aware of the felony statutes. However, records from 2016 election documents show that Mr. Goeckner was a sitting board member and a homeowner when it was instructed that an individual with a felony record could not serve on the board. The current VP did not resign from his seat at the time and has maintained his placement on the board.
Furthermore, the 2022 Amendment changes allowed the VP of the HOA board to keep his seat for another year at a minimum, by limiting the number of members that can run in the same year. While the VP was up for election in 2023, the new Amendment changes recorded somewhere around March 22, 2022, allegedly provided a loophole for him to retain his seat until the 2024 election. As such, he has exercised that option by having the other board members up for election instead, while he himself will not be running in 2023.
Only one board member has been persistent in fighting against this behavior in the Copper Ridge Community HOA Board. However, it does seem that a good number of homeowners are looking for a similar change in behavior from current sitting board members and are providing support to the Treasurer, Telisha Catchings, who is the sitting board member who is pushing for transparency and full access to financial records.
This is a developing story. If you have any insight or insider information on FirstService Residential’s method of operation and would like to stay anonymous, give our investigative experts a call and a chance to hear your case. Reach out to us at email@example.com