An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published October 14, 2009


Offense: MURDER
Offense Date: 08/21/1989
State Convicted: TX
Total Sentence: 40YEARS Maximum 
Offense Date: 09/13/1983 
State Convicted: TX 
Total Sentence: Maximum 
Probation Sentence: 7Y 
Offense Date: 01/06/1982 
State Convicted: TX 
Total Sentence: Maximum 
Offense Date: 03/03/1979 
State Convicted: TX
Total Sentence: Maximum 


That's definitely a record every "good" criminal can be proud of.

But it gets even better if you read the transcript of a deposition that took place on December 11, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale. Here is the part of the transcript that shows more facts about the criminal record than the listing above.


Q: We are now in the '95, '96 range, if I have my math correct.
Can you tell me where you lived prior to Wilton Manors in that time period? 
A: FCl Miami. 
Q: What is that? 
A: A Federal Correctional Institution 
Q: I take you it you were convicted of some crime, correct? 
A: A federal offense, yes. 
Q: What was your conviction? 
A: The conviction was for conspiracy to manufacture and other related offenses 
Q. You were convicted? 
A: Yes, I was 
Q: Was that your only conviction or was it of other offenses as well? 
A. There was a multitude of offenses that were associated with it I don't remember all of them. 
Q: Can you list any of the others that you were convicted of? 
A: Conspiracy to manufacture, Phenyl-2-Propanone, Conspiracy to manufacture Methamphetamine and firearms offense 
Q: How much time did you serve in FCI? 
A: Gosh, I don't remember the exact time. I can tell you the total time that I served, approximately ten and a half years 
Q: Have you had your civil rights restored? 
A: No, sir. 
Q: Prior to the Federal Correction facility, I guess that takes us back into the mid '80s? 
A: Correct, yeah, that would be '88ish, I guess. 
Q: Where did you live? 
A: Waco, Texas. 
Q: How long were you in Waco? 
A: It's too long to remember exactly I can give you approximates, that's the best I can do. 
Q: No problem. You would be in your mid 20s at this time I would assume? 
A. No, I would be 28 I guess. Is that right? 
I guess, I don't know I need to start with a time line, I apologize 
Q: Not a problem If you recall. Again, I am not here to ask you things you don't know, just what you recall, so don't kill yourself 
A. Can you repeat the question? 
Q: Where did you live before Waco, Texas? 
A: Odessa, Texas 
Q: Were you born in Texas? 
A: No, sir 
Q: What did you do in Waco? 
A: A number of things. Oil field primarily. I worked as a rigger for Cap Rock Trucking, just as it sounds, trucking. 
Q: And I am sorry I skipped this one and I don't mean to go out of order. 
What did you do in Waco, Texas? 
A: Manufactured Methamphetamine. 
I also owned an automobile sales and salvage yard, machine shop and an auto body shop. 
Q: Were you ever arrested or charged with any crime in Waco for that Methamphetamine? 
A: That is what this is for. That's where it was. 
Q: Other than the federal convictions that you have told me about, are there any other times that you have been arrested? 
A Yes, sir. 
Q What would that be? 
A: '84 
Q: What was that for and where? 
A: Odessa, Texas, firearms violation. 
Actually, yes, firearms violation.
Q: What became of that arrest and those charges? 
A: 36 months incarceration 
Q: Where were you incarcerated? 
A: FCl La Tuna, L-A-T-U-N-A, sounds good to me 
Q: Is it in Texas? 
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Any other arrests or convictions besides the Methamphetamine you have already told me about and this second firearm violation in 1984? 
A: To the best of my recollection, there was Cocaine possession and escape charge
Q: When were those? 
A: I don't remember 
Q: Before your incarceration or after your .. 
A: Before 
Q: From the escape charge, I take it you were being held in jail or prison and you tried to escape? 
A: Dade County Jail. 
Q: It was alleged that you tried to escape? 
A: Yes, it was 
Q: This is before 1984? 
A: Yes I wasn't being held on criminal charges. I was being held for the Navy 
Q: I guess that takes us to the time you were in the Navy 
A: Approximately 
Q: When did you join the Navy? 
A: Approximately '77 
Q: What was your rank when you exited the Navy? 
A: Airman recruit 
Q: Are you a pilot? 
A: No, sir. 
Q: Were you discharged from the Navy? 
A: Yes, sir. 
Q: With honors or dishonorable? 
A: It was not dishonorable 
Q: What is the technical word? I am not a military man. 
A: General under other than honorable conditions. It was for the civil conviction.
Q: Thank you. That would be a civil conviction for Cocaine possession? 
A: No, sir. That was a civil conviction. I was found overdosed in a drugstore
Q: What year was that, if you recall? 
A: I don't. It was late' 70s, early '80s.
Q: Any other convictions or arrests that we haven't discussed here today? 
A: One that does come to mind and it escaped me at the time, it was Texas as well, and the charge was murder
Q: Where in Texas was the murder charge? 
A: Mineral Wells 
Q: Is that a city? 
A: Yes 
Q: Mineral Wells, Texas? 
A: Uh-huh, yes 
Q: What became of that charge? 
A: I was sentenced to 40 years 
Q: Obviously you got out at some point? 
A: Correct 
Q Do you know how long you served for that charge? 
A: It ran while I was doing my federal sentence 
Q: That would be the federal sentence that you were in for 36 months in La Luna, Texas? 
A: No, the one for ten to ten and a half years.
Q: Any other arrests or convictions? 
A: I can think of one other arrest, attempted murder, it was a drug related shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport back in the late 70s, early '80s. 

Q: What happened to that charge? 
A: Dismissed 


That is quite a list of criminal charges and convictions, wouldn't you agree? No wonder the civil rights of the deposed were not restored yet.


You may wonder what this deposition was all about?


This was the beginning of a deposition in a pending lawsuit between Rock Home Improvement L.L.C. as plaintiff and Waterford Courtyards at Crystal Lake North Homeowners' Association Inc. as defendant.


And the deposed was none other than DOUGLAS A. SMITH, the President of the Board of this association. 


Considering the contents of this deposition, it is very obvious why attorney Kenneth E. Zeilberger from the law firm Katzman Garfinkel, representing the homeowners' association, was so adamant about removing from the proceeding two association owners who tried to listen in.


To give you a better picture of what actually transpired regarding the removal of these two homeowners -- whose money is being used to pay for Zeilberger's services – here’s the part of the transcript where this issue is being discussed:


MR ZEllBERGER: The ladies who are sitting at the end of the table, would you please identify yourself.
MS WALKER: Rosario Walker, Homeowner 
MS WENTZEL: Karen Wentzel, Homeowner 
MR ZEILBERGER: I will ask plaintiffs counsel, have you requested that these individuals be here today? 
MR ISRIEL [Attorney for Plaintiff]: Not at all 
MR ZEILBERGER: We have not requested they be here today. I am going to invoke the rules since they are potential witnesses in this case. 
Gerry, do you agree with me on that? 
MR LEVY: I agree with that. 
MR. ZEILBERGER: As a result, you ladies need to leave. You don't have a right to be here. You are potential witnesses in this case. You are not invited or asked to be here today and nobody invited you to come into this office or to come into this conference room at this time. I am going to respectively ask you to leave at this point 
MR ISRIEL: If I can say one thing. I don't know that invoking the rule is appropriate in a deposition under the new Florida Statute that talks about invoking the rule of sequestration. No 1. No. 2, I don't know how they are witnesses. And No 3, I believe they might have some interest as a member of the corporate entity that is being sued in this action. So with that said, obviously I have no objection to them being here, but it's up to you, Mr Zeilberger . 
MS. WALKE.R: We do have an interest as homeowners. We have been trying to get information and very little has been told to us in all this time. We have been trying and trying, but as I said, very little information or no information has been given to us. 
MR. ISRIEL: I would also say... 
MS. WALKER: As a homeowner, I think we do have a right 
MR. ISRlEL: ... from a common sense perspective, Ken, with due respect, they certainly would have a right to request of their association a transcript of this. So whether they are here or not, I don't know that it makes a difference. It's an association record. Once it is created, they would be able to read it after either way. I hear what you are saying, but I also think the Fourth District is - the answer of sequestration in a 
deposition is definitely maybe is the way the Court goes on this. 
MR LEVY: I understand while you are homeowners you may have some interest and the Association also has a duty to keep homeowners appraised of the status of a litigation, but I think that the purposes of this deposition, we don't feel that you as homeowners or any other homeowner has a right to be here.  At a hearing I understand, it is a public forum, and you can't a be prevented from attending a hearing in this action. But to the extent that the Association is not ... a deposition will take place, feel free to come and join us here, I think that we rather or we feel that it's not appropriate because again you are potential adverse witnesses to this litigation. So to the extent that it will prejudice the Association, we don't feel that you 
have the right to be here at this proceeding right now. 
MS. WALKER: I hear what you are saying, that we were supposed to be told what was going on by the Board. The Board has not told us anything because there is litigation ongoing. 
MR ZEILBERGER: Respectfully, I am - we are not going to use this forum as a place where we are going to argue about what the Association does or does not do or whether it fulfills the statutory obligation. And that's the precise reason why I respectfully requested that you leave. And let's face it, one of you has already been in litigation with the Association before, so there is a lot more going on here than you are just interested homeowners 
MS WENTZEl.: That's not true. 
MR ZEILBERGER: Well, I am not going to argue with you, ma'am. No one invited you here . I've respectfully requested that the two of you leave. The choice is yours --- 
MR. ISRlEL: Just for the record on behalf of the Plaintiff; I am not taking a position. I was just talking from common sense 
MR ZEILBERGER: I understand 
MR. ISRlEL: I don't have an interest one way or the other if they are here.
!t is his law film and if he wants you to go, he has the right to do so. 
Unfortunately, I am not going to spend the Plaintiff's, Rock's, resources arguing that for you I have to spend my resources on them. I do believe, honestly, you can get your own counsel, at the conclusion it is an Association record and you may or may not be entitled to it based on that, but again you need to seek that information. 
MR ZEIl.BERGER: Nobody is arguing that point whether you are entitled to see the transcript. The question is whether you have the right to be 
here today. I am going to take a two-minute break. Why don't you and I talk outside The three of us will talk outside. 
MS. WALKER: Can we see the transcript after and how will that be provided to us? 
(Discussion held off the record) 
MR ZEILBERGER: Ladies, I again renew my request on behalf of the defendant that you leave at this time 
MS. WALKER: We understand that we are entitled to this information later . 
MR ZEIL BERGER: I am not going to argue that issue with you at this point. It you request a copy of the transcript from this deposition, we will respond to your request in a manner that the Association deems appropriate and in compliance with the law.
MS WALKER: Very well 
MS WENTZEl: Thank you for your time
(Thereupon, Ms. Rosario Walker and Ms. Karen Lee Wentzel left the deposition room)


These two excerpts from the transcript of the deposition speak for themselves. Not much comment needed. 


I just wonder if attorney Zeilberger is as fast refusing to take the money these two homeowners pay for his services as he was eager to kick them out. Even the attorney for the plaintiff made it clear that they have a right to full information and didn't object to these two owners being present listening in. As you can see, the transcript is public record anyway. Attorney Zeilberger from the law firm Katzman Garfinkel wasted homeowners' money to remove these two homeowners from the proceedings.


Legally, allowing a convicted felon (convicted of murder and other serious crimes), with his civil rights not restored, to serve as the president of a homeowners' association in Florida is absolutely outrageous. 


Estimated more than 2.5 million homes in Florida are located within a homeowners' association. Its owners are treated by the Florida legislators like stepchildren -- or third-class citizens.  It becomes more and more obvious that our elected officials care more about the campaign funds from special interests than the welfare of their constituents. They let all these homeowners down and make them targets for easy scams.


The system fails the owners and the above excerpt of the transcript of the deposition is more than enough proof that homeowners have no rights. 


As long as Florida's legislators are refusing to rewrite FS 720 (The Homeowners Act) and make it owner-friendly (SEE: AARP BILL of RIGHTS for HOMEOWNERS in ASSOCIATIONS), we will NEVER see NEIGHBORLY COMMUNITIES in FLORIDA.

Fairness In Associations Is The Goal!