Davie condo treasurer charged with stealing from association

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Macollvie Jean-François and Joe Kollin

Published October 31, 2007 


DAVIE - Police said Tuesday they arrested a condo association's treasurer on charges of stealing more than $200,000 from the association by using a dead man's signature to deposit bogus checks into a bank account.

The arrest Monday of Christopher Winkelholz, 26, is the result of ongoing investigations into bilking complaints, reform advocates familiar with the case said. It is the latest proof that efforts to stop condo association fraud are working, the advocates said.

"It's not really surprising," said Jan W. Bergemann, president of Cyber Citizens for Justice Inc., a Lakeland-based condo association watchdog group. "It happens in many places, and we've been saying so for many years. It's like a cookie jar without a lid and everybody who feels like it can come in and help him or herself."

Winkelholz was both association president and treasurer at the Whitehall Condominiums of Pine Island Ridge II, in the 1700 block of Whitehall Drive in northwest Davie.

Between March and August, Winkelholz made out 10 checks totaling $201,111 to himself from the condo association's checking account, according to an arrest affidavit released Tuesday. Davie Police Detective Scott E. Kiso said in the affidavit that Winkelholz made out eight of the checks using the signature stamp of Whitehall resident Leon Brand, who died in November 2006. Winkelholz also used the stamp signature of a board member, Barbara Gordon, to make out two more checks.

Kiso said Winkelholz issued the checks to Bostero Pressure Cleaning Service, a fictitious business name he also used in 2005 to open an account at Wachovia Bank. Winkelholz was the sole account holder, Kiso said.

When Kiso went to arrest Winkelholz at his unit about 6 p.m. Monday, Winkelhoz told Kiso that Gordon did not know he was using the signatures, the detective said.

Winkelholz, charged with grand theft over $100,000 and 10 counts of uttering forged instruments, was being held without bail. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Whitehall Condominiums' five other board members either declined to comment or could not be reached.

The arrest is a harbinger of many more to come, said state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami. Robaina has been working with state condo ombudsman Danille R. Carroll on a pilot program to allow condo owners who have evidence of criminal activity by their directors to report it.

"People now finally are understanding that they have somewhere to go to," Robaina said.

He said condo owners should use a checklist he and Carroll prepared, which is available at