COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A woman who police said was accused of stealing money from landlords and tenants back in March was sentenced Monday.
Holly Janette Dalton, 44. Photo: CSPD
Holly Janette Dalton, 44, owned Premiere Properties and Encore Properties, LLC, which is a property management and realty firm at 1295 Kelly Johnson Blvd. on the northeast side of the city.
The investigation revealed she took damage deposits from tenants and used them for herself, stealing a total of $95,937.
During Monday's sentencing, Dalton received four years of supervised probation. She was also given a long list of additional orders by the judge, including to submit to a substance abuse evaluation, pay restitution, finish 100 hours of community service, get full-time employment and write apology letters to the victims. Dalton is also not allowed to work in real estate or property management while on probation.
11 News heard from a number of victims of Dalton, also known as Holly Nuss, when the information was first released after the state suspended her license.
Elizabeth Garner told 11 News that Dalton was her employer and her landlord until she was accused of not paying her rent. She says even with receipts, she, her husband and their three children were evicted.
"She took about $2,000 from us when we were paying rent," Garner explained. "It was really hard and I tried to fight it and it got denied automatically when I went to court. We lost everything and had to stay with my parents in a two-bedroom trailer with three children."
Brian Morse, owner of Peak Appliance, says Dalton also owed him $2,000 for a security deposit for a home he rented and for service calls he made to more than 20 of the properties she managed.
"She's crooked," Morse said. "I mean, I paid my rent in full, in good faith, on time. I paid the deposit on time. I cleaned the home, shampooed everything. I did everything I was supposed to do as a renter and she ripped me off."
Police said last March they knew of at least 15 property owners and 27 tenants who are victims of theft. Dalton collected rent and damage deposits, pocketing the proceeds in excess of $95,000.
Experts told 11 News investigative reporter Betty Sexton last March that property owners need to be diligent when working with managers, ensuring deposits are made in a timely manner with easy-to-access documentation.
Tenants also need to have a paper trail of all payments made. They also should ask for receipts, proving those funds were accepted. While there aren't any perfect safeguards, transparency and documentation are key.
The thefts took place in summer 2016 in a lapping scheme gone wrong. Police say on a monthly basis, Dalton would take rental receipts and use them for her own benefit. She would then take another receipt and pay some landlords later with the next receipt.
Police said the scheme went south after she was not able to keep payments current and would fall behind on her plan.