6 felonies against rental firm ‘on hold’
The Nevada County District Attorney’s office has filed six felony complaints against the owner of Vacation Property Management, but has placed the charges on hold pending further investigation.
Nevada County Deputy District Attorney William Cornell said on Wednesday he filed six felony complaints for writing bad checks against Dean A. Clark, the firm’s owner, with Nevada County Superior Court Judge C. Anders Holmer, and requested a warrant for Clark’s arrest.
But Cornell added that he has placed the charges and arrest warrant on hold after an attorney representing Clark, Peter Tiemann of Placerville, contacted him to say his client is in the process of paying back the money owed to the six individuals related to the felony complaints.
Cornell filed the felony complaints based on copies of bounced checks signed by Vacation Property Management that homeowners had turned in as evidence to the Truckee Police Department, he said.
The district attorney’s office is waiting to verify that new checks written by Clark to the clients will clear. The six checks total nearly $20,000, Cornell said.
“He honestly is trying,” Cornell said. “Whether or not he’s going to be successful, I don’t know.”
Truckee Police used a search warrant to seize computers and records March 13 from the property management firm on Donner Pass Road that Clark bought three years ago. Since serving the search warrant, police have received about 70 complaints from homeowners and renters claiming they hadn’t received payment from the business in months.
According to Cornell, Clark’s attorney claimed the bounced checks resulted from an honest mistake regarding the company’s bank accounts. The attorney told prosecutors that Clark had deposited $80,000 into a Plumas Bank checking account to pay customers. But the bank removed the $80,000 to satisfy an outstanding debt, leaving Clark insufficient funds for some of the checks he’d written.
Tiemann did not return calls seeking comment before deadline Wednesday.
Cornell said the investigation has been slowed because his office has been unable to access Vacation Property Management’s computers to obtain information. A password is needed to access the company’s computer system, and Clark’s attorney is “considering” giving it to investigators, Cornell said. In the meantime, Cornell said a forensics team is working to crack the code.
With a 4-inch stack of paperwork on his desk waiting review, Cornell said the next step in the embezzlement investigation is to identify homeowners who have their rental agreements in hand, can prove they rented out their property, and haven’t received payment from Clark’s firm.
The group does not include those claiming the company owes them money for unpaid utility bills or damages to their homes, as those matters should be reported in small claims court, Cornell added.
Two other groups of possible victims have also been identified from the complaints, Cornell said: Homeowners who don’t have proof of a rental contract with Vacation Property Management, and small businesses that have completed services such as snow removal but have not been paid. Cornell said that without further evidence, those cases would likely lead to civil rather than criminal charges.
On Tuesday, Vacation Property Management spokesperson Rosie Pedroza said Clark is working on paying all his clients back the money he owes and is expected to be in the Truckee office in a week.
Otherwise, she said, “it’s business as usual.”
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