Sunday, December 12, 2004


On Friday night, when Newsweek's Mark Hoseball reported that there was a warrant issued for Bernard Kerik's arrest in connection with a dispute over condo fees, I said it struck me as odd. It also struck a reader named Brittney as odd -- and she knows a lot more about these things than I do.

Here's what she wrote (emphasis mine):

Regarding your speculation about whether the arrest warrant could be something more than the financial wrangling ... -- in a word: yes.

I work for a community management firm (managing HOAs - condos, townhouses, single-family homes) and unpaid dues have a very defined process. It takes several months of repeated overdue bill notices (and accrues late fees) before further action is taken, then the property is liened and the account goes to collections (accumulating more fees). After a time period specified in the community's governing documents, if the matter isn't being addressed in some way by the homeowner, the property can ultimately (and legally) go into foreclosure to pay the unpaid fees, but that's incredibly rare.

Usually, even when a homeowner ignores repeated overdue bill notices, a lien filing gets their attention. Most of the time, some kind of payment agreement is worked out. In a very tiny percentage of cases, the homeowners will take it to court and unless the association has violated the policies set forth in the governing documents, the homeowners inevitably lose....

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that there's no way Kerik's financial tangle resulted in an arrest warrant simply from unpaid dues. Something else had to've happened during that time period that was only tangentially related to the actual financial issue. Your speculation of assault is quite probable; could also be some kind of egregious property damage or even, failure to appear (although I doubt that last one because then the court would just proceed without him). We had a guy once who threatened the HOA's board members and our community manager with a shotgun because he'd just received his lien notice and was prepared "to be another Waco, you commie rat bastards". Proceeded to drive his jacked-up pickup across the lawns of his house and his neighbors', as well as the neighborhood park (making sure to take out some park benches and a stop sign along the way) , then took off before police got there. Then it was a warrant and a standoff and a "eventually, he was taken into custody and no one was harmed" kind of thing....

That's what I was thinking -- why would an arrest warrant ever be necessary -- unless mattered turned (or were about to turn) violent?

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