Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published July 11, 2008
Owners in a Davie condo
community will urge a judge to "throw away the key" Aug. 1 when
he sentences their former president for stealing $759,654 from their
"He robbed us blind. He doesn't deserve to breathe the same air we
do. The judge should throw away the key," Peter Trampani Sr. said
Thursday about Christopher John Winkelholz, 27.
Davie police arrested Winkelholz on Oct. 29 on charges of forgery and
theft from the 264-unit Whitehall at Pine Island Ridge condo association,
where he was president, and the 7,000-member Pine Island Ridge Country
Club, where he was vice president.
On May 29 he pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft and two
counts of passing forged checks between June 2005 and October 2007.
Broward Circuit Judge Pedro Dijols set the sentencing date for next month.
the maximum he faces is 70 years — 30 years on each of the
grand theft charges and five years on the forgeries —
state sentencing guidelines recommend four to five years.
Trampani, 74, vice president of the Whitehall condo
association, said he and dozens of his neighbors plan to ask
to speak at the sentencing hearing. They want to persuade
the judge to sentence Winkelholz to the maximum by
describing the effects his crimes are having, especially on
retirees living on fixed incomes.
He said the stolen money amounts to about $3,000 for each
unit in the condo association.
"People here worked all their lives and now, with the
economy, don't know if they can pay for food and
prescriptions," Trampani said. "They are coming in
crying because they can't pay their maintenance. Don't you
think they could use that $3,000? Couldn't you use $3,000?
to get up there and make sure the judge knows. What's happening here
brings a tear to your eye."
Trampani said Winkelholz doesn't deserve leniency. He said Winkelholz
never offered to make restitution and hasn't returned records the
association needs. "We're still trying to recover from what he
Winkelholz has been in jail since his arrest. Police said he was a flight
risk because his passport and bags, indicating he was bound for Argentina,
were in his car when he was arrested. On April 2, the judge reversed
himself and set bail at $502,000, but Winkelholz never posted it.
The case against him is one of three brought last year by police
departments in Broward, just as state Rep. Julio Robaina, R- Miami,
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and state condo
ombudsman Danille R. Carroll were beginning to teach law enforcement
agencies about condo crimes. Until then, agencies generally turned away
owners suspicious of their boards, saying the problems were civil, not
Hallandale Beach police arrested four people after owners in Parker Plaza
Estates, an oceanfront high-rise, hired an attorney to help them outline
an alleged kickback scheme by directors and employees. Charged with
organized fraud were association President Joseph Greenberg, now 84,
association manager Robert Hittner, 60, maintenance supervisor Angel
Ramos, 79, and Fort Lauderdale plumbing contractor Ira Silver, 63.
Prosecutors contend they schemed to siphon an estimated $1.4 million from
the treasury of the 520-apartment condo.
Greenberg pleaded no contest in October and was ordered to repay the
association $250,000, serve seven years' probation and forfeit ownership
of his apartment. The three others are free on bail while awaiting trial.
Hollywood police on Aug. 27 arrested Doris Weinstein, 64, former president
of the Quadomain condo association at 2201 S. Ocean Drive, on a charge of
grand theft. Police said Weinstein used association money to pay health
insurance premiums for herself and her husband. The coverage was worth
more than $13,000 over 30 months, police said. She is free on bail while
awaiting trial. If convicted, she could face five years in prison.