Bath HOA treasurer faces embezzlement allegations

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, January 17, 2019

BATH — A pattern of financial irregularities at a Bath-based homeowner’s association ended in embezzlement charges this week, after a four-month investigation. According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office , investigators found financial irregularities dating back to 2012 at the Mixon Creek Homeowners Association in Bath.

A BCSO press release stated that members of the HOA contacted the agency in September 2018 with the concerns, alleging that Charlotte Cutler, who served as secretary/treasurer of the HOA, had embezzled funds from the association’s bank account.

“Just looking at bank records, I think they (the HOA) saw some obvious expenditures that just kind of stuck out like a sore thumb,” BCSO Lt. Jim Vanlandingham said. “Bank records are something you can’t hide or destroy. You can destroy your copies, but banks have to keep to keep records by federal regulations for so many years.”

Vanlandingham, who was the lead investigator in the case, says money was moved between accounts with board approval, with Cutler being the only name on the account. Overall, Vanlandingham says the HOA lacked many of the necessary checks and balances needed to safeguard against embezzlement, such as having two signatures on every check.

“Everybody needs a check and balance system,” Vanlandingham said. “In this case, getting the bank records was not difficult. It wasn’t hard to find the money trail, but nobody seemed to be paying attention until September 2018.”

Based on interviews, court orders and bank records, the BCSO charged Cutler, 36, with the embezzlement of more than $97,000 in HOA funds. A warrant for her arrest was issued on Jan. 10, and according to the release, Cutler turned herself in to the BCSO the same day and was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond.

Cutler, who has retained an attorney, maintains her innocence.

“I am not guilty of this, and this matter needs to be tried in the court system rather than the media,” Cutler said Wednesday afternoon.