Davie residents: Imprison condo chief who stole $759,654

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Joe Kollin

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 treasury.

"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.

Although 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? I'm 

Christopher John Winkelholz

going 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 did."

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 criminal, cases.

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.