Property manager allegedly steals rent checks, management expects tenants to repay
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) - People already struggling to make ends meet are being hit with a double whammy: Their former apartment manager is accused of stealing their rent payments.
Now, their former property manager, Casey Oiler, is under investigation. Oiler is accused of taking those payments, and it isn’t just in Manchester. WSMV 4 Investigates has confirmed that Oiler has also been charged in Warren County, and is under investigation for stealing rent payments in Decherd.
The Jackson, Tennessee-based company recently admitted in a letter to tenants that it isn’t their fault their rent payments are stolen. However, the company still wants residents to pay up again.
John Wilear said he places his money order for rent in a gold slot at the Holly Tree Apartments in Manchester every month.
“Once it is in there, my responsibility is over,” Wilear said.
So does Angel Baker. What they didn’t expect was for their payments to disappear.
“It is such a big mess,” Wilear said. “There are so many people involved.”
Now, their former property manager, Casey Oiler, is under investigation. Oiler is accused of taking those payments, and it isn’t just in Manchester. WSMV4 Investigates has confirmed that Oiler has also been charged in Warren County and is under investigation for stealing rent payments in Decherd.
All three properties are run by Volunteer Management Company.
“I don’t even know [how I feel] anymore,” Wilear said. “Mad.”
Making Wilear angrier was the letter that Volunteer Management sent to tenants last month. In it, the company told renters that they have until the end of the year to repay what the company admits was stolen.
A portion of the letter reads, “I understand this is difficult times, and this was not your fault, but this is the way Corporate and our lawyers want to handle this.”
“This is a low-income housing,” Wilear said. “I work at Walmart, you know? I don’t make a ton of money.”
WSMV 4 Investigates went to the company to ask why people are expected to pay back money allegedly stolen by one of their employees. In an email, they originally blamed residents.
“The money orders were given to her blank, so she just wrote her name on them,” management supervisor Brad Tursky wrote.
However, WSMV 4 Investigates has copies of money orders from Wilear and Baker. If you look closely, you can see that they were both originally made out to “Holly Tree Apartments.” Oiler’s name was written over that.
When we told the company about the orders we obtained, Tursky reiterated that the money “was not deposited into our account to become our money.” Tursky said it was tenants’ money until deposited.
Ultimately, both Wilear and Baker said they believe the property is trying to make them responsible for someone else’s crimes.
“I paid it, so I shouldn’t have to pay it back if I already paid it,” Baker said.
“Take responsibility for your employees,” Wilear added.
Volunteer Management said it wasn’t until after they fired Oiler that they learned about the missing rent. They would not tell us why Oiler was fired. They also said they don’t know how much money was missing or how many people were impacted. In the meantime, Oiler is expected in court next week on the Warren County theft case.
All three properties are USDA rural developments. That means they are getting federal money to help these folks out. We reached out to USDA to see what they have to say about the way the company is handling this. We will update this story when we receive a response.
So how did these tenants figure out something was wrong?
According to the report filed with Manchester Police, “Wilear was made aware of it when the company that owns Holly trees apartments [sic] contacted Mr. Wilear and advised that he was behind on his rent. Mr. Wilear went to the postal service and got copies of the cancel money orders and the copies show that Casey Oiler put her name on the money orders and had them deposited into her account.”
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