guest blog by Deborah Goonan
Here’s a condo story in Florida that might some day make the basis for a great TV movie script. It’s so bizarre. I can’t make this stuff up.
It involves Whitehall Condominium of the Villages, West Palm Beach, Florida.
First, I watched the WPBF news report of condo-owners breaking and entering the condo office to seize records, checks, and computer hard drives. It just so happens one of the homeowners involved was Katherine Waldron, a candidate for Palm Beach Commission.
Predictably, dirty politics is using this information to campaign against Waldron, and in favor of her competitor.
Waldron explains that in October 2014, FL Division of Professional and Business Regulation (DBPR) had authorized the removal of Condo President Vincent Rossi, and therefore the owners were justified in taking control of the Board and securing their assets and records.
Another video report from WPTV sheds additional light on the story. After a recent audit, owner Cary Collins and others became concerned about discrepancies in the financial records. There seemed to be money missing! Enter Vincent Rossi, former condo Board President. He admits to WPTV that he withdrew money from Association accounts to gamble in various casinos, but claims it was “his” money after all. Something to do with Rossi guaranteeing a past due water utility bill, he claims.
Whitehall owners have filed many other complaints with DBPR officials. But when the state fined the Association $5000, Whitehall Condo Association, led by Rossi, fought back unsuccessfully, at a cost of $130,000 to condo owners. Oh, and by the way, although he is no longer on the Board, Rossi is currently employed as the maintenance manager at Whitehall to the tune of $52,000 annually.
The owners have sued the Whitehall Condo Association and Mr. Rossi. The Association is now suing the owners for damages related to the break in. WPTV reports an ongoing police investigation, which could result in criminal charges. Your tax dollars at work, Floridians, even if you are fortunate enough not to live in Whitehall or any other condo or HOA in the state.
It’s too early to tell how this battle will turn out, and we may never know the whole story if there is yet another round of out-of-court settlements with gag orders.