[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 10/29/20]
GROVELAND, Florida — A woman who stole more than $365,000 from her homeowner’s association admitted the theft to a Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective and said the situation “snowballed,” turned herself in at the Lake County Jail, Wednesday.
Joan Marie Yasuko Baskett, 56, was elected secretary of the Ranch Club Homeowner’s Association and filled the role of treasurer, after the elected treasurer asked her to, according to a probable cause affidavit. In May of this year, the HOA president filed a report with LCSO after discovering a large sum missing from HOA bank accounts.
An LCSO detective reviewed the accounts and found more than $121,000 worth of Zelle transfers with variations of Baskett’s name, the affidavit states. “Zelle is an easy way to send money directly between almost any U.S. bank accounts typically within minutes… With just an email address or mobile phone number, you can quickly, safely and easily send and receive money with more people, regardless of where they bank,” according to the company’s website.
The detective also found more than $97,000 worth of checks written to Baskett and checks written to her husband as double payments for landscape work, according to the affidavit; the HOA also found other transactions unrelated to HOA expenses. The thefts from the three HOA accounts totaled $365,754.80, the affidavit states.
Baskett, who currently lives in Orlando, spoke with the detective at her current home on Tuesday and admitted to the thefts, “due to personal financial difficulties,” according to the affidavit. She said she used the funds to pay her mortgage and other bills and it “snowballed.”
A warrant was issued for Baskett’s arrest Wednesday and she turned herself in at LCJ on one count of grand theft, more than $100,000. She was released Wednesday night on $10,000 bond.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]