Court records show that
Michelle Changar-Coe, 46, changed her plea to guilty on a grand
theft charge and was sentenced to five years in prison followed
by 15 years of probation. She also was ordered to pay $192,416
in restitution during a court hearing Tuesday.
Changar-Coe was president of the Mainlands Section 7 homeowners
association from January 2009 through December 2013 and forged
signatures on dozens of checks she deposited into her personal
bank account, authorities said.
A letter filed in court in January from Maureen Utich, a
Mainlands resident, spoke of her wishes for prosecution of the
crime and said more than 200 people in her community had
suffered from Changar-Coe's actions.
"She has caused hardship for many of her victims. Families with
children, elderly on fixed incomes, laid off and unemployed
people struggling to pay their bills," she wrote. "She stole
from all of us."
About a half dozen residents echoed her sentiments in letters to
Broward Circuit Judge Michael Rothschild.
Changar-Coe's attorney, Michael Gottlieb, said his client has
two young children and stole from her community at a time when
her husband had lost his job due to an injury and she was a
pregnant stay-at-home mom.
"She engaged in this conduct at a point in time when her family
was suffering a great financial tragedy and she made a foolish
decision stealing from her association," he said. "I know she
regrets it. She's remorseful."
Court records show that Changar-Coe pleaded guilty to charges of
grand theft and uttering a forged instrument in 1997. At the
time, the judge withheld adjudication, meaning there was no
conviction on her criminal record, and she was given three years
of probation. She also was ordered to pay about $4,500 in