Article Courtesy of The Miami
By DIANA MOSKOVITZ
Published November 1, 2007
The first man charged in a $1.4 million condominium
kickback scandal has become the first to end his criminal case, pleading
guilty to organized fraud.
Joseph Greenberg, 83, was one of four men accused
earlier this year of partaking in a scheme in which the condo board
approved inflated estimates for work at the building and a contractor
would kick back the extra money to Greenberg and the other two.
|Investigators estimate the
group bilked $1.4 million over several years from residents
of Parker Plaza Estates, 2030 S. Ocean Dr. in Hallandale
On Friday, Greenberg pleaded guilty to
one charge of organized fraud, said his lawyer, Scott Saul.
A charge of illegal banking deposits was dropped, Saul said.
The other three men charged --
contractor Ira Silver, 62, condo manager Robert Hittner, 59,
and property supervisor Angel Ramos, 78 -- are moving ahead
with their cases and have a hearing set for Dec. 20.
Saul said his client was an old man
who would rather cooperate with authorities than age in
''He's 83. He doesn't want to die in
jail. He made a payment to guarantee what his future would
be,'' Saul said. "You can't take it with you.''
Greenberg agreed to pay $250,000 to
Parker Plaza and turned over ownership of his condo there to
the association, although he is allowed to live there as
long as he wants, Saul said.
Greenberg was one of four men accused earlier this year of partaking
in a condo kickback scheme.
The $250,000 was an arbitrary amount, Saul said,
because of the difficulty determining exactly how much money each man
''The money he had in savings. He saved it for a rainy
day,'' Saul said. "It was pouring last Friday.''
Greenberg also will serve seven years of probation,
but he will be allowed to travel and won't have scheduled visits with a
probation officer, Saul said.
Greenberg hasn't formally agreed to be a prosecution
witness, Saul said, but he could be called to testify.
Greenberg, a retiree from Canada, was president of the
520-unit building until he was voted out of office, along with his other
board members, in February 2006. Hittner was the condo manager, and Ramos
was the property supervisor.
Silver was the contractor who would collect the money
for work, cash the checks and give some back.
State Rep. Julio Robaina, who has fought for more
protection of property owners in associations, heralded the guilty plea,
especially that Greenberg had agreed to pay back money.
''That's a great thing that there's restitution,'' the
South Miami Republican said. "No one wants an 80-something to go to
The conviction, he added, ''makes me feel good about
what we are doing'' to teach local police agencies to look for community
"It proves that no one is going to get off the
hook. For me, this is a victory for everyone that lives in condos.''
Added Democratic state Rep. Joe Gibbons, whose
district includes Parker Plaza: "That is justice.''
But Jan Bergemann, founder of the condo crime website
Cyber Citizens for Justice, decried what he considered too lenient a
sentence, even if Greenberg was elderly.
of all, at Parker Plaza, they estimate $1.4 million was stolen,'' he said.
"Now if he pays a quarter of a million, who pays the rest? Then he gets
off scot-free? Without jail time? He committed crimes when he was 79 so why
shouldn't he go to jail in his 80s? I think it is absolutely a slap in the
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