Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published October 2, 2007
who have evidence their directors are stealing association money soon will
get more cooperation from law enforcement agencies in Florida, a state
By December, says Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, all condo owners with
incriminating evidence should be able to fill out a form and send it to
the state condo ombudsman. The ombudsman's office will screen the form and
if it provides evidence of a crime, send it to the local police
department, sheriff's office or state attorney for criminal prosecution.
|A pilot program
in Miami-Dade County has been doing that since May.
Two years ago, after serving as
chairman of a state panel investigating condo problems, he
began pushing for a program to teach law enforcement
officers that condo directors do commit crimes and to
instruct condo owners they must have evidence, not just
suspicions, when they go to police.
Owners had repeatedly testified at hearings throughout the
state that police send them away because their complaints
are "civil matters" that can't be investigated as
crimes. Robaina said they are crimes.
When the state wouldn't provide money for a pilot program,
Robaina got Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez
Rundle interested. Her office on its own began holding
workshops to educate police, who wrote a checklist for unit
owners and put together training materials for other law
In May, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz filed charges
against four suspects in an alleged kickback scheme at
Parker Plaza Estates, a Hallandale Beach condo. In July,
Satz filed a grand theft charge against a former president
of the Quadomain condo in Hollywood. All the defendants have
pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.
Crimes Screening Checklist & Unit Owner Resource Guide: www.sun-sentinel.com/condos.
(In Miami-Dade County, send to Condo Ombudsman as
instructed, in other counties take to local police or call
Rep. Julio Robaina.
State condo ombudsman: email@example.com;
954-202-3234, 850-922-7671; www.myflorida.com/condos.
(accepts checklist only from Miami-Dade owners).
State Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami,
The pilot program went
into high gear in May when Condo Ombudsman Danille R. Carroll began
screening complaints submitted by Miami-Dade owners. A new Condominium
Crimes Screening Checklist & Unit Owner Resource Guide tells owners
how to file a complaint.
Robaina said condo owners outside Miami-Dade aren't being ignored.
"They can still use our form, but because the ombudsman can't screen
them, they should go to their police department," he said. "If
the police department won't take them and there is [evidence of a crime],
they should call me and I'll help remove the roadblock."
He said he has called departments in Broward, Polk, Monroe and Bay
counties, explained the need and sent them the training material prepared
by Miami-Dade police.
"In those counties where I've spoken to them, they like the concept
and seem to be embracing it," he said. "Up to this moment, I
haven't had any resistance."
Satz's office is planning to work with police agencies after it completes
the prosecution of the two pending condo cases.
Alesh Guttmann, the assistant state attorney in charge of the office's
economic crime unit, plans to hold a workshop for Broward detectives who
might come across such cases, said Satz spokesman Ron Ishoy.
Preston Mighdoll, the economic crimes chief of the Palm Beach County State
Attorney's Office, said that office has no such plans.
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