Hundreds protest against condo fraud in South Florida
Miami Herald
By Brenda Medina & Enrique Flor
16 April 2016

Hundreds of condo owners marched through the streets of Doral on Saturday, April 16 to demand that authorities take steps to stop a wave of fraud hitting their neighborhoods.    Roberto Koltun

More than 250 South Florida condo residents marched Saturday through the streets of Doral to demand that authorities take steps to stop a wave of fraud hitting their neighborhoods.

With posters, flags and whistles, the group of protesters marched through downtown Doral shouting about alleged abuses by their board of directors and the private companies hired to manage the condominiums.

“We want our demands heard in Tallahassee,” said William Mendieta, one of the organizers of the march and resident of the Las Vistas condos in Doral. “We have left behind apathy and indifference to unite with other condos so that together we can make one request: Justice!”

the fifth public protest

It was the fifth public protest since an investigation by el Nuevo Herald and Univision 23 in March revealed the systematic frauds facing condos in Miami-Dade County — including at least 84 fraudulent votes in November election for the board of directors at The Beach Club condos in Fontainebleau Park, and a fraudulent bidding process in which a company won a $5.2 million contract in a competition against two front companies.

The protest involved residents of condos in several municipalities in the county, including Aventura, North Miami Beach, Kendall and Homestead. Condo owners from Broward County also participated in the march.

Mendieta said authorities have started to react to the condo owners’ complaints and are proposing the organization of a special group of detectives from different police departments in the county to investigate complaints of condo fraud. But Mendieta added that the campaign should go further and involve legal changes in Tallahassee.

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, head of the Miami-Dade delegation in Tallahassee, in fact is working on a broad reform to the condo laws that he expects to submit in November. County Mayor Carlos Gimenez last week promised to go to Tallahassee to support the Diaz efforts.

“We want authorities to fulfill their promises,” said Mendieta. “We don’t want this to remain a promise during an election year.”

The protesters asked for the support of more elected officials.

We want a solution!

“Where are our mayors and commissioners? Why are they not marching with us? This affects thousands of families,” shouted Sol Barquero. “We want a solution! Out with corruption!”

For Katherine Castro, president of The Beach Club, the protest Saturday marks an awakening of condo owners who have been abused for years with the complicity or indifference of authorities.

“This march is the beginning of what could be the end of the abuse of working families who find themselves without protection” in their condos, said Castro. “It is time for authorities to confront the companies that manipulate the system to fill their pockets.”

Janvier Villar, an owner at the Buckley Towers condo in North Miami Beach, said she was angry with the inaction by authorities in the face of complaints about fraud in the elections for its board of directors in December. A group of owners is pushing to recall the board members elected in the balloting.

Ana Gutierrez. 74, who lives in a Doral condo, said he took part in the protest to ask other condo owners for advice. She and several others at the march exchanged information about the best way to document and submit complaints about condo fraud to authorities

vandalized my car and my house

“Because I asked for information, they threatened me, they even vandalized my car and my house,” said Gutierrez. “I pay the maintenance and everything is dirty. It’s a disaster. I don’t know where the money goes. I have a right to know.”

Aymara Sorhegui, who lives in the Park East condos in Fontainebleau said it was important that residents of different condos unite to push their demands.

“This march is important because it has united us, condo resident, to fight together for changes and stop the abuses that we have been suffering at the hands of corrupt organization,” said Sorhegui.

Reader's Comments
Amoray Ricart University of Miami
They need to investigate Lago Grande in Hialeah who is also managed by Florida's Property Mgmt now known as Sunshine Management. The fraud there is unbelievable. For one they haven't held elections in over 10 years. The place is disgusting nothing gets done. The roofs were done in 2011 by guess who? Taylor Roofing who's owner was recently arrested. And guess what? The roofs are leaking and the management company is doing NOTHING about it. There's gangs, drug dealing inside the community.

The Board, the Management Company and all the Vendors they do business with are thieves !!

International Park 1
They need to investigate the lawyers as well. Condo management companies and the lawyers they work with have incestuous relationship that do nothing more than hurt owners.

A lawyer who is supposed to be the condo's legal aide will never go against a management company even if that management company is doing illegal things. Management companies and Lawyers are in all in together. So if management companies are being corrupt so are lawyers. Or just ask the lawyer from International Park 1 who let a receiver mismanage funds and has done NOTHING to seek relief from her for International Park 1.

This receiver was found to ask for more money than allowed by the courts but yet the lawyer for IP1 does nothing why? The answer is simple the lawyer and the management company are in bed together and asking to relief for IP 1 all of their behind the door deals will be reveiled.

Wayne Morris
We are absentee owners of a condo in Plantation and suffer from a condo management company that acts if the owners work for them and our condo board sits there mute and when you ask for a list of the board members and their contact information the silence is deafening.

Luis Fonte Broker/Owner at Fonte Realty & Investments
This whole mess with condo association need to be restructure. They are all crooks and steal the money, especially management company. I just caught the president of my condo association stealing thousands of dollars and being help by the management company. They all need to be behind bars. Politicians are sleeping on this issue, thats needs to be taken care of.

Joseph Kaminski
CORRUPTION EXPOSED RIGHT HERE FOR YOU. Many say there is no incentive for state involved government corruption, but that is a lie. There is billions in cost reasons. Why the state shall give no help to stop association corruption. In fact they would have more of it if they could. There will be no help from Tallahassee. You can expect the exact opposite. This fraud is well liked and well rooted in Florida government, and public use infrastructure maintenance cost offloading. The government supports all homeowner associations and condo associations. Even with the massive fraud. The reason is simple."infrastructure maintenance cost offloading"

All property under associations deeded lands and restrictions is off the state books on cost to maintain. The state and counties have no obligations to fix, roads, streets, sidewalks, install or maintain street lights or even pay for power to light them, maintain grass or shrubs. Nothing. Even the roadways all through the neighborhood are all "cost to maintain" by the people living inside the deed restricted community. Pot holes, repaving etc. Yes. Thats means even repaving, repainting lines. All underground public utility lines etc.

So, this process of deed restricting communities has allowed the state of offload many public use infrastructure maintenance costs. Hundreds of billions are saved by the state, by passing these maintenance fees to the associations to pay.

SO THE STATE DOES NOT CARE about the fraud the way you think they would. They won't do a thing to put a damper on associations and possibly cause the state to have to assume some costs the associations have. Thus the state will take NO proper legal actions against fraud by all Associations that can or may jeopardize the corrupt way the STATE OF FLORIDA are funding the cost of public use infrastructure maintenance fees.

Jose L. Cano
Woodgate Condominium Association.
Our Board of Director members are being re-elected for more than 10 years, abusing of the lack of quorum rule and manipulating the votes.

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