Condo Owner Fraud Squad Local Heroes in Florida
Posted May 30, 2007 2:32 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
A successful effort by condominium residents near Miami to bring to justice those involved in management malfeasance has made the whistleblowers local heroes.
Calls are coming in from all around South Florida, congratulating the residents and asking them how they did it, reports the Miami Herald. Four men have been charged in an alleged scheme to bilk the Parker Plaza Estates condominum in Hallandale Beach of at least $1.4 million, and perhaps much more. The fraud reportedly involved kickbacks and other sweetheart arrangements that diverted funds from association work projects into the hands of favored individuals.
One of the residents who helped authorities get the evidence they needed to bring charges is Don Pinkus, 68. A retired U.S. Customs agent, he is now the president of the Parker Plaza association's board and says he is fielding several calls daily from condominium residents elsewhere seeking to learn from his experience.
Pinkus and other residents helped jump-start the investigation of their condominium building by providing documents, not just voicing suspicions, says Eric Williams, a Hallandale Beach police detective who investigated the case and left his first meeting with the resident fraud squad carrying half a box of documents. More boxes soon followed. "There is a lot of burden left on the residents of the condos and incoming boards to develop the evidence,'' Williams says, and Pinkus and his group "did a superb job.''