Davie condominium owners befriended and trusted their young, affable
In return, he betrayed them, embezzling nearly $1 million.
Christopher Winkelholz's crimes should cost him 20 years in prison,
indignant condo residents told a Broward Circuit judge Friday.
The judge gave them what they wanted.
"He stole from those he
lived with, those he worked with and those who trusted and liked
him," said Arthur Smith, president of the Pine Island Ridge Country
Many victims, noted Smith, were retirees on limited incomes or part-time
workers toiling to supplement their Social Security benefits.
In May, Winkelholz pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft and
two counts of forgery for stealing from the Whitehall at Pine Island
Ridge condo association, where he was president, and the adjoining
country club, where he was vice president.
"You were in a position of trust," Judge Pedro Dijols told him
before imposing the 20-year prison sentence. "You used their money
like it was your own personal bank account."
"I'm sorry for what I did. I know it wasn't right," he said.
But he also disputed the amounts that prosecutors said he stole and
should repay. He emphasized the good he did for the condo community.
"We rebuilt the country club," he said.
Winkelholz, 27, also must serve 15 years' probation and repay
restitution in an amount yet to be figured, Dijols ordered.
He had faced a maximum of 70 years in prison.
Peter Trampani Sr., vice president of the condo association, requested
that Winkelholz — "a parasite living off of somebody else's
sweat" — spend 30 days behind bars for each of the more than 250
families he stole from, for an approximate 20-year total.
Prosecutors say Winkelholz stole from the condo association from June
2005 to October 2007 by forging signatures and using a dead man's
signature stamp to deposit checks into an account for a bogus
Winkelholz had a penchant for gambling, Rolex watches and luxury cars
— a Volvo, a Mercedes and a BMW. He told his mother, live-in fiancee
and neighbors he worked for Homeland Security. He did not.
"He craves a lifestyle that is reserved for the rich and
famous," said Smith, the country club president. He said he had
"genuinely liked" Winkelholz.
Smith said Winkelholz was a quiet, polite, helpful, charismatic, young
man who was also a liar, a thief and a manipulator.
When Winkelholz was arrested in October 2007, he had luggage in his
trunk, and a passport and plane ticket to Argentina in hand, police