An accounting manager accused of embezzling from her Charleston employer was in court asking for a public defender Thursday, after federal prosecutors accused her of depositing more than $750,000 in two unauthorized bank accounts.
There was no clue what became of money Donna Haynes allegedly siphoned off from Community Management Group over five years.
Haynes, 48, who lives near Summerville, was arraigned on charges of defrauding the Folly Road company and the Internal Revenue Service. According to its website, Community Management Group manages more than 100 neighborhoods and homeowner associations throughout the Charleston region.
Haynes worked for the company as an accountant and human resources manager. She was "a longtime employee who enjoyed significant autonomy" in collecting money and paying bills, including the payroll, according to an indictment filed earlier this month.
Payments for ancillary services outside of regular management weren't recorded until the money was deposited, so Haynes was able to divert those checks into the unauthorized bank accounts she opened in the company's name without attracting notice, according to the indictment. Then, she used Community Management Group's signature stamp to write checks to herself from the two secret accounts, according to prosecutors.
No money was taken from homeowner associations, according to Matt Pecoy, Community Management Group's corporate counsel.
"No homeowner association funds were able to be diverted, were diverted or were threatened to be diverted by this wrongdoer," Pecoy said. "She was only able to divert payments from and to outside third parties. Community Management Group’s internal processes and checks and balances would not have allowed any such theft of HOA funds."
Between December 2009 and December 2014, Haynes paid herself more than $750,000, prosecutors alleged. She also is charged with tax evasion for not reporting the income to the Internal Revenue Service.
Haynes pleaded not guilty to five counts of interstate wire fraud and four counts of federal tax evasion in U.S. District Court in Charleston on Thursday. Her bail was set at $50,000.
If convicted, the prosecution plans to go after any assets to help recoup the losses. The only item listed in the indictment is a house on White Boulevard near Summerville.
Rhett DeHart of the U.S. Attorney's office is prosecuting the case.
Note: This story has been updated with a comment from Community Management Group's attorney.