Bank settles with condo owners
A local bank has reached settlements with two of the eight homeowners associations allegedly embezzled by former Avon resident Brandon Outlaw.FirstBank of Avon reached settlements with the associations after Outlaw, a former bookkeeper for Eagle-Vail-based PRM Realty, a now defunct property management company, allegedly deposited homeowners fees in the wrong account.Roger Behler, president of FirstBank of Avon, said the bank did sign an agreement with some local associations, but he said it was a confidential deal and he couldn’t disclose the details.”We don’t feel the bank is liable, but we felt that it was a fair agreement for a dispute,” Behler said. The agreements, however, aren’t the result of any lawsuits filed against the bank, he added.Outlaw, who is awaiting trial in Colorado and Oklahoma on separate charges, allegedly deposited into PRM Realty’s FirstBank account dozens of checks endorsed to the Stone Creek Condo Association and the Vail Point Townhome Association. The checks are now part of the criminal investigation.According to a January 2002 police complaint it is suspected that Outlaw forged the signature of PRM Realty’s owner, Jim Poppleton, and cashed dozens of checks.”The checks are part of the criminal evidence and show a forgery,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who is prosecuting Outlaw on charges he stole $700,000 in local condominium fees. He is charged with two counts of theft, one count of unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, and one count of forgery – all felonies.
Although the Vail Point Townhome Association didn’t file a lawsuit against FirstBank, the bank settled earlier this year, paying the association less than half the money that Outlaw allegedly stole from them, said two Vail Point homeowners who asked not to be named because of the confidential agreement reached with FirstBank. The association lost about $117,000. A Stone Creek Condo Association board member declined comment citing the confidential agreement.”Banks settle disputes when it’s a prudent business decision,” said Richard Fulkerson, a state bank commissioner with the Colorado Division of Banking, which oversees all state chartered banks. According to John Zakhem, an attorney in Denver who specializes in bank and corporate law who reviewed documents that are part of the criminal case against Outlaw – both FirstBank and PRM Realty could potentially be liable under Colorado law.PRM Realty could share in some liability, Zakhem said, because a bank customer does have a duty to discover and report unauthorized signatures on checks or unauthorized payments. But in this case Outlaw allegedly doctored the documents to an extent rendering it difficult to notice the inaccuracies, Zakhem said.Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at email@example.com.