Pompano condo board gives up dispute to keep woman from selling apartment

Article Courtesy Sun Sentinel
By Joe Kollin 
Posted August 16, 2005 


A Pompano Beach condominium board that spent more than two years and more than $50,000 to prevent an owner from selling her apartment to her boyfriend has dropped its court fight and allowed the sale to proceed.

With the approval in hand, Rochelle Gordy and Richard Capalbo plan to move soon into the eighth floor, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment at the Admiralty Towers, 750 N. Ocean Drive.

"Now we can get on with our lives," Gordy said Friday. "The Admiralty finally allowed us to transfer the apartment to Richard. I guess they got tired of fighting after 21/2 years, and we will move in, which was our plan from the beginning."

The board fought to prevent the sale by using a common but rarely used provision in condo documents known as the right of first refusal, which gives the association the chance to buy the unit before anyone else does.

Gordy, a widow with two grown children, wanted to sell the unit to Capalbo, her boyfriend, a divorced father of three young children, for $225,360, the amount remaining on her mortgage. But the association contended the price was well below the market value of $310,000.

The board argued Gordy's asking price would reduce the value of other units. Instead, board member Jack Brill wrote in a letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the board planned to buy the unit at Gordy's price and sell it, using the profit to reduce assessments for other unit owners. The higher resale price would be reflected in the public records, helping maintain values.

"They were relentless," Capalbo, a lawyer, said of the board.

Gordy said she used the apartment as an investment rather than as a home, and the sale price wasn't supposed to reflect the market value.

The association's reasons for dropping the appeal couldn't be learned as of Monday. Attempts to contact board members and the association attorney, Stuart M. Smith, on Thursday, Friday and Monday were unsuccessful.

The board took the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal after two Broward circuit judges refused its request to make Gordy sell to the association.

One of the judges, Victor Tobin, in February 2004 accused the board of "greed beyond belief" and "committing a fraud on this court."

The appeal was dropped in May, with the board promising in a court-approved settlement to sign the papers agreeing to the sale.

A month after the settlement, when the board still hadn't provided the approval, Gordy went back to court and asked Broward Circuit Judge Dorian Damoorgian to hold the board in contempt. Board President Anthony Sanisarto approved the sale before he would have had to appear before the judge.

"Sometimes David does beat Goliath," Capalbo said, "but it's an awful lot of work."

Pompano condo association accused of blocking unit's sale
to make profit for itself