Courtesy of Miami Herald
Published May 30, 2007
Calls have been coming in from condominiums
across South Florida to the people behind the Parker Plaza Estates
investigation, all asking the same questions:
How did you do it?
And can you help me?
The case led to four arrests and uncovered
at least $1.4 million bilked from unit owners at the Hallandale Beach
condo, with the money going back to a few select people instead of actual
building needs, according to Hallandale Beach police.
The story caught the attention of condo
owners across the region, and people from Miami Beach to Palm Beach County
have been calling those who cracked the case for advice.
Current condo board president Don Pinkus
was one of the residents who suspected wrongdoing. He helped gather
evidence and brought it to Hallandale Beach police Detective Eric
Pinkus gets two or three calls a day, which
he doesn't mind.
''We're more than happy to give anybody
guidance who wants to call,'' said Pinkus, 68.
Williams said he explains how residents can
get their local police to listen to them, using Parker Plaza as an
The key part, he said, is going to police
with documents showing wrongdoing, like canceled checks or bizarre
contracts. A hunch that something is amiss isn't enough to get a police
''There is a lot of burden left on the
residents of the condos and incoming boards to develop the evidence,''
Williams said he left his first meeting
with Parker Plaza residents with half a box full of documents. Many more
''They did a superb job,'' Williams said.
Another key is patience. The Parker Plaza
case took 17 months, and it still continues.
Residents estimate they lost about $4
million based upon contracts showing how much was charged in the contracts
versus how much they estimate the work should have cost. This leaves about
$2.6 million still unaccounted for.
The four men charged so far: former condo
president Joseph Greenberg, 83; independent contractor Ira Silver, 62;
former Parker Plaza manager Robert Hittner, 59; and building maintenance
supervisor Angel Ramos, 77.
|Now the investigation is
focusing on whether other contractors set up similar
kickback schemes at Parker Plaza. Williams also has taken
statements from people at other Hallandale Beach condos,
which he declined to name.
Williams and Pinkus said they were
glad to help as many people as they can. But don't expect
them to actually investigate your condo.
Most of the condos are outside
Detective Williams' jurisdiction -- Hallandale Beach is only
4.5 square miles in Broward's southeast corner -- so he
can't look into many of the claims.
As for Pinkus, the retired U.S.
Customs officer said he only works for his building.
''I try to help them as much as I
can,'' he said. ``But I'm not for hire.''
Eric Williams says documents are key to Parker Plaza Estates