WAYNE, NJ – The Brittany Chase Condominium Association (BCCA) filed a fraud lawsuit in Passaic County Court against former BCCA board members, the current property management company serving BCCA and a Wayne contractor, claiming that over a three-year period, the Defendants conspired to defraud the BCCA of over $2,000,000 through a scheme to replace roofs on several buildings in the 395-unit complex near Wayne Hills High School.
BCCA is seeking $2,627,195 in compensatory damages.
The defendants named in the suit are:
- Former BCCA Board of Trustees President John “Jack” Boydell,
- Former BCCA Board of Trustees Vice President Paul Walmers,
- FirstService Residential of Eatontown, NJ, the property management company contracted by BCCA.
- Ashley NMJ Construction Company of Wayne, NJ
"The moment the new board took office and set its eyes on the books and records of Brittany Chase,” said Fran Ritter, the current BCCA Board of Trustees President, “we spotted multiple red flags which led us to the discovery of a massive fraud perpetrated by the defendants on our community.”
According to the documents summitted to the court, Walmers, a resident of Brittany Chase, served as Vice President of BCCA Board of Trustees from December 2015 through December 2018. At the same time, Walmers was also employed by FirstService Residential as the Community Manager from December 2006 through January 2019.
James Magid, a Vice President at FirstService Residential named in the suit as Walmers’ supervisor during the time of the alleged claims did confirm that Walmers was an employee of FirstService but declined to comment on any further questions.
This arrangement put Walmers in a conflict of interest as he had both a fiduciary responsibility to BCCA, as well as a responsibility to his employer FirstService, according to the suit.
As stated in the lawsuit, Esposito, the owner of Ashley NMJ Construction, the contractor who was paid to replace roofs in Brittany Chase is the nephew of Boydell.
The plaintiff claims that Ashley NMJ billed and was paid by BCCA over $2,000,000 for work to roofs that were:
- Under Warranty with another company and/or,
- Did not need replacing and/or,
- Not replaced at all, in the case of at least five buildings.
The suit claims that no-bid contracts for anything more than $5,000 are not allowed under the current agreement between BCCA and FirstService.
However, as laid out in the court documents, FirstService did not obtain any other bids to replace the roofs, nor did they receive estimates of costs from Ashley before agreeing to replace the roofs, nor was there a written contract ever formed or produced between Ashley and FirstService or Brittany Chase. “Effectively Ashley NMJ Construction Co, LLC was given a blank check to bill for work,” the suit claims.
The detailed nine-count lawsuit alleges that Boydell and Walmers planned the scheme in 2015, looking to get kickbacks through Ashley.
Boydell, Walmers or Esposito could not be reached or did not respond to messages to give a response.
Last year, a group of frustrated owners at Brittany Chase ousted the board of trustees, led by Boydell and Walmers, claiming a lack of transparency. This stemmed from a $2,600,00 assessment that was levied against all owners to replace foundations of two buildings in the complex. Two lawsuits were filed in order to allow proxy voting from absentee owners in order to complete the takeover by the new board.
According to Ritter, it was when the new board took over that the fraud was uncovered.
“Our months of expert review established that systemic and ongoing fraud was the order of the day by a governing body without oversight,” said Ritter, who is also currently running for the Wayne Town Council Ward Five seat in next month’s elections. “Any time there’s a lack of transparency, no open dialogue or a shroud of secrecy your community is at risk for waste, fraud and abuse.”
At a BCCA meeting to be held tonight at Wayne Hills High School, the lawsuit will be announced officially to the owners in Brittany Chase.