Judge orders the proceeds of home sale held in escrow

Article Courtesy of Medford Central Record
Published December 6, 2007 
By Rose Krebs

    MOUNT HOLLY-A Superior Court Judge has ordered that some proceeds of a house sale of the former president of a Kings Grant neighborhood homeowner's association be put in an escrow account that will be subject to court control.

      A class action lawsuit is pending between residents of the Oak Hollow section of Kings Grant and the former president of the Oak Hollow Condominium Association, Inc., which alleges that the board unlawfully used money collected from homeowners.

      The lawsuit contends that former board president Michael Meglino engaged in intimidating, harassing conduct and the misappropriation of association funds during his time as president.

      Within weeks of the lawsuit being filed in September 2006, Meglino resigned his position as president.

      As that case awaits trail, Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder Dec. 22 has by written order established that $125,000 of the sale of Meglino's home on Bridgewater Drive be put into a legal trust account. The sale was expected to be finalized on Dec. 27, according to court documents.

      Meglino is being represented by Nicholas Harbist of Blank Rome LLP.

 The money put in the escrow account cannot be released without court order.
      Harbist said last week he has filed a motion to Bookbinder to dismiss the case because it is procedurally "improper."

      "We've made a motion to dismiss the entire case," Harbist said. "I'm sure Judge Bookbinder will rule on that in due time."

      On Sept. 27, Bookbinder issued an order freezing finances of the association. Attorney Mark Rinaldi of Evesham was appointed to co-sign association checks while the matter is pending.

      Also, Bookbinder has ordered that an election be held in February to appoint new association board members.

      There is currently an interim board of four members serving, according to Paul Leodori of Leodori & Whelihan, P.C., an attorney representing the plaintiffs. The election will take place the week of Feb. 5, Leodori said.

      Among accusations in the lawsuit are claims that since June 2004, Meglino authorized the transfer of $30,000 from Oak Hollow's checking account to his wife's company, SGM Construction and Landscaping.

      That $30,000 was transferred "back to Meglino and family members directly in the form of cash, goods such as television equipment, services such as limousines, vehicles and school related expenses," the lawsuit contends.

      Leodori said plaintiffs are seeking that the board appoint an accountant to investigate the misappropriation of funds claim.

      The Oak Hollow Condominium Association, Inc. was established in 2001, after a state Supreme Court ruling ordered that the Kings Grant Management Association, Inc. (which had been established in 1985) "relinquish the day-to-day management of the unique common elements of all nine of the Kings Grant condominium associations," according to court documents.

Residents sue president of condo community