Davie condo boss arrested in fraud case

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald


Published October 31, 2007 

Police have arrested a Davie condominium president who they say stole more than $200,000 from his condo association by using a dead man's signature to deposit phony checks.

Christopher Winkelholz, the president and treasurer of Whitehall Condominiums of Pine Island Ridge II in Davie, was arrested by Davie police on Monday. He was charged with one count of grand theft of more than $100,000 and 10 felony counts of uttering forged instruments.

Winkelholz, 26, was being held without bail on Wednesday in Broward County's main jail.

In a police affidavit filed Monday, Davie police Detective Scott E. Kiso said Winkelholz wrote 10 forged checks totaling $201,111 between March and August 2007.

Kiso said eight of the checks, which were made out to Bostero Pressure Cleaning Service, were signed by Winkelholz and 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.

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 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. Police say that case might have cost condo owners at that complex about $1.4 million.

Bill Raphan, the state's assistant condominium ombudsman, has been involved in a pilot program for Miami-Dade County to look into condo fraud allegations.

With inadequate oversight at many condominium boards, Raphan said it's all too easy for people to steal money.

''The way condos are set up some of them have huge budgets. Checks are going back and forth constantly,'' Raphan said Wednesday. ``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. They have a lot of money to play with in these condos.''