Tucson- Maryann Kenniger noticed her neighborhood in southwest Tucson was deteriorating. The sign out front badly needs repair, along with the roads and the pool. Kenniger is the treasurer of the Presidio Villas II Homeowners Association. She and fellow HOA board members asked their bookkeeper how the HOA’s money was being spent.
“When we asked for reports,” Kenniger says, “we got phony reports I believe, or reports that didn't tell the whole story. He never showed us anything from the bank.”
The board hired a financial examiner, then blew the whistle on their bookkeeper. The alleged actions of 31-year old Joshua Bonillas, also known as Josue Bonillas, have left them feeling betrayed.
Kenniger told the News 4 Tucson Investigators she is, “Really, really angry, because why, what gives a person a right to take all that money and not put it back into the community where it belonged? And everybody here's struggling, just a lot of them are struggling to make their dues payment.”
Detective Katrina Jones of the Pima Co. Sheriff’s Dept. fraud unit says Bonillas has been charged with two felonies: Theft and fraud schemes. Jones said Bonillas spent at least $32,000 of the HOA’s money. Kenniger puts the amount at $45,000; Det. Jones says the investigation is ongoing.
Bonillas was arrested on Dec. 1 after detectives obtained search warrants and seized laptops and financial records from his home and the desk at his day job: Bonillas was an internal auditor for the Pima County Department of Finance and Risk Management. Det. Jones says Bonillas used the HOA’S money as his personal piggy bank.
“At this point in time we've discovered that he was paying his mortgage, as well as vehicle payments, cell phone payments, and credit card payments, along with student loan payments, and various other things,” Jones said.
Kenniger says Bonillas got the paid bookkeeper's job (he was hired at $350 per month) in 2011 because he's friends with the HOA’s former president. At one point during Bonillas's tenure, Kenniger says board members were horrified when their financial examiner told them how much, or how little money, was in their hoa account: A total of $28.00. That’s not a typo. Kenniger told us the balance of the HOA bank account was down to $28.00.
Kenniger says, “I also found out that our property taxes had not been paid since 2011, and that's when I really, really got upset.”
The $64,000 question, or in this case, the $45,000 question, is: Do investigators believe Joshua Bonillas stole any money relating to his job as an auditor at the County Finance Department?
Detective Jones says, “I don't believe so at this time. There's been no indication that that's taken place.”
Bonillas apparently wasn't home when we visited. He's been put on paid leave by the county from his job, which paid him $60,529.66 per year. He doesn't live in Presidio Villas II. His neighborhood, about seven miles away and also on the city’s southwest side, is in much better shape.
Kenniger said, “Nobody should take money like that and use it for their own personal use, ever. I think he needs to definitely in some way pay for it.”
Bonillas' attorney said it's too early in his investigation to comment, pointing out that Bonillas has no prior record.
Regardless of how this case ends up, it's another reminder for all HOA members to keep a close eye on the association's books, to always "follow the money."
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