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Judith E. Butt, 74, of Hopewell Street in Berks County, was facing more than 1,300 felony forgery charges.

Former Upper Gwynedd condo association bookkeeper admits to $375,000 embezzlement over 7 years

Judith E. Butt, 74, of Berks County. (Credit: Upper Gwynedd Police)

  • Courts

The former bookkeeper of an Upper Gwynedd Township condominium association admitted to embezzling more than $375,000 while fulfilling her duties over a seven-year timeframe, and must repay all of the stolen money, according to The Mercury.

According to The Mercury, Butt pleaded guilty to felony dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and theft by failure to make required deposit of funds.

Sentencing will occur later this year for Judith E. Butt, 74, of the 700 block of Hopewell Street, Union Township, Berks County, who was facing more than 1,300 felony forgery charges in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, according to court records.

Butt is free on bail pending her sentencing hearing, per the report, and must stay away from the Gwynedd Office Condominium Association at 311 Sumneytown Pike.

All other charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

According to The Mercury, the association is basically a group of tenants living in suites on Sumneytown Pike and its purpose is to pay bills to cover building maintenance and the exterior property, including sewer, electric, cleaning, landscaping, and elevator service.

Butt was formally charged following a six-month investigation by Upper Gwynedd Township Police.

Investigators were contacted by GOCA in March 2023 concerning an alleged embezzlement scheme involving their bookkeeper. Police said GOCA is a group of tenants that occupy suites at 311 Sumneytown Pike, and they hired Butt as their accountant in 2009 to maintain their account and pay bills for sewer, electric, landscaping, cleaning, and other expenses.

Butt was paid $4,200 per year to manage the account, and she used her own computer and equipment to manage the account, police said.

GOCA told police they became aware of the alleged scheme when a representative from the Upper Gwynedd Sewer Authority contacted them regarding a $22,449.60 overdue bill, adding they were going to terminate service as they had not received payment since March 2020. At that point, GOCA members took a cursory look at their account dating back to 2016 – the furthest they could access – and allegedly found numerous unauthorized payments, including checks written to Diamond Appaloosa Ranch in Gilbertsville, according to charging documents.

Butt is partial owner of the ranch, and investigators said there’s no connection between GOCA and the ranch, and there’s no reason any transactions should have occurred between the two organizations.

When initially confronted by GOCA, who requested access to the Quickbooks account, Butt allegedly claimed her computer wasn’t working and made other excuses to deny access, police said. She later wrote GOCA a check for $7,918 claiming it was compensation for her mistakenly writing payments out of the GOCA account instead of her personal account, police said.

Initial efforts by GOCA to view checks dating back to 2016 were stunted by Butt having changed all billing and account activity to her home address in Birdsboro, police said. She later provided 11 sealed envelopes containing check records from the account to GOCA, however police said 10 of the sealed envelopes were faked to appear as if they were sent via USPS, and the checks inside did not match with the account records provided from the bank, according to police.

Further investigation showed that between 2016 and 2023, Butt had wrongfully dispersed $375,928.44 via overpayments to herself, overpayments to family members who provided cleaning services, checks to the Diamond Appaloosa Ranch, and automatic and electronic payments to Lowes, Verizon, Best Buy, American Express, Home Depot, and other companies.

“Judith Butt had utilized her access and control over the Gwynedd Condominium Association’s account and wrongfully dispersed $375,928.44 to benefit herself and others connected to her without permission or consent from the board,” said investigators, in the affidavit of probable cause. “She tried to conceal and prolong this activity by creating fake bank records, fake envelopes, and even fake United States postage to cover her activity.”

Butt is represented by attorney Adam J. Sager. Assistant District Attorney Gwendolyn Kull is prosecuting the case.


Tony Di Domizio

Tony Di Domizio is the Managing Editor of NorthPennNow and PerkValleyNow, and a staff writer for WissNow. Tony graduated from Kutztown University and went on to serve as a reporter and editor for various news organizations, including Patch, The Reporter, and The Morning Call. He loves creative writing, action figure collecting & reselling, music, and films with Michael Keaton & Al Pacino.

Monday, June 24, 2024


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