Article Courtesy of The Miami
By BREANNE GILPATRICK AND JENNIFER
Published November 1, 2007
A Davie condominium
president, who was arrested this week and accused of using forged checks
to steal from his condo association, might have used a similar scheme to
take money from another condo, police said Wednesday.
|Davie police arrested
Christopher Winkelholz, the president and treasurer of
Whitehall Condominiums of Pine Island Ridge II, on Monday.
Police say Winkelholz, 26, stole more than $200,000 from his
condo association by using a dead man's signature to deposit
phony checks in a fake company's bank account.
Winkelholz was charged with one count
of grand theft of more than $100,000 and 10 felony counts of
forging checks. And, now, Davie police Lt. Wayne Boulier
said detectives are investigating allegations that
Winkelholz stole money from another condo association where
he formerly served on the board.
Boulier said Winkelholz could face
more charges as early as Thursday. Details of that case had
not been released Wednesday.
''Some more information has come to
light and we're aggressively looking into it,'' he said.
Boulier would not say exactly how much police believe
Winkelholz stole from the second condominium association.
will tell you it's substantial,'' he said. ``It's probably
in the same ball park if not a little less than what he's
been charged with.''
say Christopher Winkelholz, 26, stole more than $200,000 from his
condo association by using a dead man's signature to deposit phony
checks in a fake company's bank account.
Winkelholz was being held without bail on Wednesday in
Broward County's main jail, after Monday's arrest.
Condominium reform advocates say the large sums
passing through many condo associations, combined with inadequate oversight,
has led to increased fraud investigations around the state.
''The way condos are set up, some of them have huge
budgets, checks are going back and forth constantly,'' said Bill Raphan, the
state's assistant condominium ombudsman.
Raphan has been involved in a Miami-Dade pilot program
that investigates condo fraud allegations.
''Construction companies are doing work and not doing
work. There's so much money, if there's a payoff it's very hard to prove,''
he said. "They have a lot of money to play with in these condos.''
In the Davie case, Winkelholz wrote 10 forged checks
totaling $201,111 between March and August, Davie police Detective Scott E.
Kiso wrote in a police affidavit filed Monday.
Kiso, the lead detective in the investigation, said
eight of the checks, made out to Bostero Pressure Cleaning Service, had
Winkelholz's signature along with a signature stamp of condo resident Leon
Brand, who died in November 2006.
The two remaining checks were signed using a signature
stamp for resident Barbara Gordon, police said. Winkelholz told police that
Gordon did not know he was using her name to cash checks.
Gordon could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
According to police, Winkelholz deposited all 10
checks into a checking account for Bostero Pressure Cleaning Service. The
police investigation revealed that Winkelholz opened the account in June
2005 and was the sole account holder. The Division of Corporations with the
Florida Department of State has no record of any company called Bostero
Pressure Cleaning Service.
Condo association members at Whitehall II, 1700
Whitehall Dr., either declined to comment or could not be reached Wednesday.
But Pete Gentile, who lives in the condo next to Winkelholz's, said
residents in his complex had been hearing rumors about the case for several
days before the Pine Island Ridge board of governors' president announced
the arrest at Tuesday night's meeting.
''I'm really surprised,'' said Gentile, 78.
"People liked him. He was very active and he looked over things.''
LATEST IN A STRING
The Davie arrest is the latest in a string of South
Florida condo fraud cases.
In August, Miami-Dade police arrested another condo
association president who was accused of stealing about $50,000 in
association fees from Villa Grande Condominium.
And in May, four Hallandale Beach condo residents were
charged in an alleged kickback scheme at Parker Plaza Estates. Police say
that case might have cost owners about $1.4 million.
For years, arrests in condo fraud cases were rare and
allegations were largely handled by civil courts. But condo reform advocates
have tried to make it easier for local law enforcement agencies to get
involved, said state Rep. Julio Robaina, a South Miami Republican. And
Robaina said he hopes the Miami-Dade pilot program into condo fraud cases
will start statewide early next year.
is going way down,'' he said. "More than ever, people are getting
involved in their association, and they're coming forward.''
SCAM PILOT PROGRAM
condo treasurer charged with stealing from association
condo boss arrested in fraud case