HOA fights recall effort at Wellington's Black Diamond development
Allegations of forged signatures on recall petitions are at the core of the dispute within the neighborhood. A judge soon will rule on their merit.

Article Courtesy of  The Palm Beach Post

By Mike Diamond

Published January 7, 2023


WELLINGTON — The effort to remove four of seven HOA members in the Black Diamond community is headed for the courts.

Homeowners at the 475-home development sought to recall or remove the four board members and replace them with four other homeowners. But at a special meeting Nov. 30, the HOA voted 4-3 to refuse to accept the petitions, claiming that many of them contained forged signatures.


The HOA filed a lawsuit Dec. 7 to challenge the validity of the recall petitions, asking a judge to determine whether it did the right thing.

State law allows HOA board members to be recalled for any reason. A majority of homeowners must sign petitions supporting the recall. At Black Diamond, the four members targeted for recall all refused to certify the petitions; the three members not targeted all voted to accept them. With the majority of the board refusing to certify, the four targeted members will remain in office until the courts address the issue.

The HOA's lawyer, William Pincus of West Palm Beach, filed a lawsuit in circuit court questioning the tactics used by recall leaders. The lawsuit says that ballot signatures were obtained through “fraudulent representations” that includes allegations that existing board members stole $27,000. Affidavits were also submitted from some homeowners claiming that their signatures were forged.

The lawsuit alleges that recall leaders have been “engaging in a door-to-door campaign of harassment and intimidation to prevent members from meeting with targeted directors.” In addition to the claim that the targeted members stole HOA funds, the lawsuit claims residents were told that the HOA funded a $100,000 basketball court. Those misrepresentations resulted in homeowners voting for the recall, the lawsuit says.

Black Diamond development, consisting of 475 homes off State Road 7, is railed in controversy over an effort to recall four of the secen board members.

Recall petitioners, led by Richard Darquea, a homeowner and a paralegal, submitted 283 names of homeowners seeking to recall HOA President Jerry Milord and board members Elias Kazan, Brian Papula and Terrance Pruitt. The required number to force a recall is 238. More than 60 ballots were rejected.

Black Diamond lies west of State Road 7 and north of Wellington Regional Medical Center. Homes sell for between $600,000 and $1 million, but the ongoing disputes have affected property values, according to residents.

The feud began in May 2021 following a close board election. Darquea filed papers with a state agency claiming that at least 27 proxies from that election contained forged signatures. The agency ordered that a new election be held but was powerless to enforce its order. Darquea and others then filed a lawsuit to overturn the results but this year settled the case after the HOA agreed to pay their legal fees.

Darquea and others subsequently decided to recall a majority of the HOA board. Darquea denied that there was anything irregular with the recently submitted recall petitions.

The ill will at Black Diamond shows no signs of subsiding.

Darquea says the targeted board members have been pressuring residents to sign the affidavits attesting to forged signatures. One was offered a deal in which the board promised to expedite an application to widen her driveway, Darquea claims, adding that the targeted board members have used the development's property manager to pressure residents into saying they did not intend to vote for the recall.

“This is malicious and vindictive litigation as part of an effort to put more financial strain on anyone contesting them,” Darquea said. “They are using HOA money; we have to use our own funds to address these issues and they know that.”

Pincus has issued summonses for each of the defendants that include Darquea and the homeowners named in the recall petitions to replace the four targeted members. A circuit judge is expected to be assigned to the case once the defendants have been served.

Pincus said he is hopeful that the case will be quickly resolved but it is not clear when the case will be heard.

Homeowners at Black Diamond in Wellington filed papers to recall four board members