A La Habra Heights Improvement Association Vice President Convicted

Imprisoned VP with face blurred (Courtesy of the Avocado Express)

LHHIA VP Arrest on 144 Charges

In May 2009, the Vice President, Welcome Wagon host, and reported Easter Bunny of the La Habra Heights Improvement Association was arrested on 144 charges including identity theft and fraud. Bail was not met.

The Improvement Association Board offered no statement for over one month as members grew more concerned about the safety of their personal information.

In June 2009, the Heights Life referenced legal troubles, said there was no connection to work at the Improvement Association, and that a leave of absence had been taken.

Conviction and Sentencing

According to Superior Court Records, at an Orange County Superior Court hearing on February 22, 2010, the former Vice President pled guilty to some charges, while most were dismissed. A sentence of 2 years in prison was imposed to run concurrent on all guilty charges.

Wrong doing at the Improvement Association Uncovered

The arrest of the Vice President drew attention to actions taken and wrong doing by the Board of the La Habra Heights Improvement Association.

At the Annual June 2009 Members Meeting, for which a notice had stated that Elections would be held, it was announced that the election had already been held at an undisclosed place and time, by undisclosed persons.

Improvement Association Members Voting Rights Stripped Away by Board

Upon questioning, the La Habra Heights Improvement Association Board said that they had changed their by-laws, removing members voting rights. The Board refused to let anyone see the revised by-laws, stating they could only be seen by the Board.

California Corporations Code requires a non-profit to disclose their by-laws upon request.

The Board also refused to share their financial report with the members, even after being asked to do so.

California Corporations Code requires a non-profit to disclose their finances upon request.

Misrepresentation and Mail Fraud

Further investigation revealed that the Improvement Association had been misrepresenting themselves as a 501(c)3 non-profit for several years, when, according to the authorities, they had been a 501(c)4 since 1966.

Donations to a 501(c)3 are tax deductible, those to a 501(c)4 are not.

A 501(c)4, which the Improvement Association had been since 1966, is typically used by PACs (Political Action Committees).

The US Postal Inspector's Office said that mailed solicitations for contributions, misrepresenting the tax deductibility of the organization, is Mail Fraud.

The Treasurer, Jeffrey Heintz, had said that the Improvement Association was a 501(c)3, even though he had signed returns for multiple years stating they were a 501(c)4.

The Treasurer of the Improvement Association hung up on a caller seeking to find out about their status, and after directing inquiries to the Improvement Assocation website, never answered those questions.

After stonewalling inquiries, and criticizing questioners, the Improvement Association admitted they had made a "mistake", in representing themselves as a 501(c)3.

Boycott of LHHIA and Heights Life Advertisers

Some Improvement Association members have witheld paying their dues and boycotted Heights Life advertisers, as the only means of protest, until the organization returns open and legitimate elections.

Related Stories

Improvement Association Vice President Arrested

Focus of VP Arrest Story Shifts to Board of Improvement Association

Improvement Association Taken Private - away from Members

Contributors to Improvement Association at Risk

Mail Fraud