South Fulton County

Retired vet says he can’t afford retirement home after police say HOA members stole insurance money

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A retired veteran says he might not be able to afford his planned retirement home after police charged two HOA members for taking the insurance money that he needs to rebuild his condo.

He’s now asking elected officials to oversee the money that the HOA receives to better protect residents like him financially.

A total of 24 families lost everything after two buildings burned at the Camelot condos.

But only six of them got their insurance money, according to police.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes spoke to a retired couple who wants their insurance money, but they also want action.

“These were his retirement funds we invested. No income, no condo – nothing,” condo owner Grace Smith said.

She spoke to Fernandes on Wednesday over the phone because she was out of state, figuring out where she and her husband – a retired Navy veteran - are now going to live.

They thought they were going to live in the Camelot condominiums in the city of South Fulton – when they bought a Condo in 2019.


They only paid about $25,000 for it because a bank foreclosed on the previous owner.

But a few months later, right before they moved in, a fire destroyed their condo in January 2020.

When they couldn’t get answers from the Homeowners’ Association by phone they drove from Texas to Atlanta.

She said then-HOA president Bettye Ligon said the Smiths would get $45,000 insurance money for their unit because the HOA was not rebuilding.

“And whenever they did get a check, they were planning to buy out all the owners. So we came back to Dallas with that understanding,” Grace Smith said.

But they never got their money -- and neither did 17 other condo owners, police say.

The Smiths demanded that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office investigate Camelot’s HOA. That’s when police subpoenaed bank records and found out an insurance company gave the HOA a check for $1.5 million in 2020, Just three months after the fire.

Police say Ligon and HOA treasurer Lyndon Baldwin Sr. were writing checks to themselves and that’s why they’re now facing criminal charges.

Two state representatives are now trying to help the condo owners get their money and write legislation to prevent this from happening again.

So far, Baldwin has yet to turn himself in.

Fernandes spoke to him on the phone Wednesday and said he’s innocent. Ligon never returned her call.