Judge denies bail to former condo president accused of forgery, theft

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Tonya Alanez and Macollvie Jean-Francois

Published January 19, 2008 


Authorities caught up to Christopher Winkelholz just in time.

When Detective Scott Kiso arrived at the suspected embezzler's Pine Island Ridge home in Davie in late October, Winkelholz had his luggage in the trunk of his Volvo, one of three vehicles prosecutors say Winkelholz leased with stolen condo-association money. His passport was in his car visor, and an itinerary to Argentina was in another set of bags.

Winkelholz, 26, the former treasurer and president at the Whitehall Condominiums of Pine Island Ridge II, is accused of siphoning more than $750,000 from the condo association and adjoining country club. He has been jailed and held without bail since his Oct. 29 arrest.

On Friday, Broward Circuit Judge Pedro Dijols denied Winkelholz's request for bail.

About a dozen people Winkelholz is accused of duping attended the hearing.

Upon hearing Dijols' denial, someone gasped, "Yes!" Another let loose a solitary clap.

More than 180 residents signed a petition asking the judge not to grant bail.

With family ties in Argentina and no job, wife or children to bind him to South Florida, Winkelholz posed too great a flight risk, Dijols concluded.

"There is no question in my mind that if given the opportunity, Mr. Winkelholz will bolt very quickly," Dijols said.

Prosecutors say Winkelholz stole from the condo association by forging signatures and using a dead man's signature stamp to deposit checks into an account for a bogus business.

Winkelholz was originally accused of stealing $201,111 from March to August 2007. An amended Jan. 17 arrest report says Winkelholz took $759,654 from June 2005 to October 2007.

He has been charged with two counts of grand theft and two counts of forgery and faces a maximum of 70 years in prison if convicted.

Kiso, an economic crimes detective with the Davie Police Department, said he would not have uncovered the crime were it not for Peter Trapani, a suspicious condo board member. He provided the investigator with copies of canceled checks, including the ones containing the signature stamp of a dead board member, and other records.

Winkelholz had a penchant for Rolex watches and luxury cars. He told his mother, live-in fiancee and neighbors that he worked for Homeland Security. He did not.

In the week before his arrest, Winkelholz forged two checks for $160,000 from the country club, cleared out his computer and disposed of records, erasing evidence of the crimes, prosecutor Al Guttman said.

After the hearing, Winkelholz's defense attorney, Robert Flynn, offered his condolences to the association members.

"Our heart goes out to them," he said, "and certainly we're going to try to do everything possible to try to ameliorate the situation."


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