Official wants to help residents catch

crooked condo officers

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Joe Kollin

Published October 2, 2007


Condo owners who have evidence their directors are stealing association money soon will get more cooperation from law enforcement agencies in Florida, a state representative says.

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 enforcement agencies.

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.

For more information

Condominium Crimes Screening Checklist & Unit Owner Resource Guide: (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:; 954-202-3234, 850-922-7671; (accepts checklist only from Miami-Dade owners).

State Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, 305-442-6868.


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.