Douglas County Sheriff investigates property management companyA former Superior property management company, Apartment Finders and its owners Michael and Shirlene Anesi are under investigation by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for the alleged theft of more than $120,000.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A former Superior property management company, Apartment Finders and its owners Michael and Shirlene Anesi are under investigation by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for the alleged theft of more than $120,000.
No charges have been filed against the company or its owners.
The possible theft came to light in March 2011.
Conrad and Kristie Laurvick of Clifton, Va., who contracted with Apartment Finders to manage their property and tenants, reported possible embezzlement of their money. The property owners detailed problems they encountered trying to get money out of an escrow account for their property held by Apartment Finders, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
To date, at least 10 landlords have come forward with complaints against Apartment Finders, said Douglas County Detective Richard Schnell.
Thousands of pages of documents and anything capable of storing digital data were seized last year through search warrants served at the business’ former Superior office and homes owned by the Anesis, Schnell said. In addition, thousands of pages of documents were subpoenaed from a bank. A forensic accountant from another agency is going through the paperwork. Douglas County Sheriff’s Detective Brad Hoyt said based on the number of documents involved, it could be a long, time-consuming process.
The detectives are seeking help from the public to gather information on the case.
“I want to talk to tenants,” Schnell said. Anyone who rented from Apartment Finders in 2010 through June 2011 is asked to call a special tip line set up for the case at (715) 395-1369. Any landlords with information also are encouraged to call.
Though no charges have been filed, a number of civil cases were filed against the Anesis last year, according to online court records. Schnell confirmed many of the cases were brought forward by landlords who used Apartment Finders to manage their property. Conrad Laurvick, for example, was awarded a default judgment of $9,675.19.
This isn’t the first time the business has come under scrutiny for financial issues.
In 2007, the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing performed an audit on Apartment Finders and Michael J. Anesi, who is a licensed real estate broker. The Wisconsin Real Estate Board found Anesi failed to perform account reconciliations — a process similar to balancing a checkbook — and failed to do the required monthly trial balances and validation.
He was reprimanded, ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and take a broker’s course.
In addition, an audit was performed by the Department of Regulation and Licensing in 1997 during which the auditor discovered insufficient funds in several different owners’ accounts and validations were not performed. No disciplinary actions took place at that time, according to online state records.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing, now the Department of Safety and Professional Services, Michael Anesi’s real estate broker’s license expired Dec. 14, 2010.
A call to Shirlene Anesi was not returned at press time.