Hampstead accountant pleads guilty to fraud Condo associations lost over $100,000

November 20, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A Hampstead accountant who bilked four condominium associations out of more than $100,000 pleaded guilty yesterday to a single count of felony theft.

The plea by Otis K. Comstock, 34, came four months after investigators from state police and the Carroll County state's attorney's office raided his Black Rock Road offices and seized financial information that detailed a two-year scheme to defraud the condominium associations.

Throughout the 25-minute hearing, Comstock stood silently, occasionally looking at his wife in the first row of the gallery. He spoke only to answer "yes" and "no" to questions by his attorney, Wesley D. Blakeslee.

Comstock's plea was part of an extensive deal in which he agreed to have his real estate holdings sold to pay restitution.

At one time, his properties had a market value of about $600,000, according to the state Department of Assessments and Taxation.

State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman said yesterday that he expects the property sales to net only $50,000 to $60,000 after all mortgage holders are paid. That will be all that will be available for restitution.

"We're real pleased how this all turned out," Mr. Hickman said shortly after Comstock left the courtroom. "This is a record-setting case. We've never had so many victims of a single crime."

Several hundred homeowners belong to the four associations, Mr. Hickman said. Some were in court to watch Comstock's guilty plea, and several approached Mr. Hickman to ask when restitution will be made.

Mr. Hickman said that he did not know how long it would take to sell the properties.

Also as part of the plea deal, Mr. Hickman agreed not to make any recommendation when Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold imposes sentence on Comstock Jan. 19. The judge could send Comstock to jail for up to 15 years and fine him up to $1,000.

As a property manager for the condominium associations for at least the past two years, Comstock was responsible, among other things, for collecting monthly dues, providing financial statements and preparing tax returns.

According to a statement that Mr. Hickman read in court yesterday, Comstock stole money from the condominium associations' savings accounts and certificates of deposits and provided falsified financial reports to the officers of the associations in order to cover his thefts.

Comstock has cooperated with prosecutors since July 24, when his businesses -- CFS Inc., Meko Realty and Comstock Financial Services -- were raided.

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