Tag Archives: Chicago

Chicago Lawyers? Phew!

Oh how a little power over your neighbors turns people into freaks! The neighbor battle linked below looks like fiction, but it really is happening in a Chicago condominium.

Ellis Levin is a lawyer who’s represented several condominium associations. He’s also been fired by a couple of them. But the bitterness that goes on in the Thorndale Beach North high-rise is beyond belief.

Sigrid Ingold is the president of the board, a position she’s held for 19 years. She and Lawyer Levin are pretty tight, and condo owners say the bullying by Ingold and Levin is crazy.

Catherine McCarty got herself elected to the board in an effort to thwart the ongoing threats and fines liberally handed out to other condo owners. But now McCarty, herself, is being bullied by this pair of ‘nut jobs’. When a contractor suddenly appeared in the building to do some very costly repairs, McCarty questioned the board president about why other board members were never asked to approve or oversee the contract or the charges.

Suddenly, Lawyer Levin hit her with a notice of a $150 fine for harassing his good buddy, board president Ingold.

It happened again, when McCarty tried to talk to yet another contractor. This time it was a $450 fine plus more than 1500 bucks for legal fees. She refused to pay and is now facing a lien and possible confiscation of her home.

McCarty is demanding financial transparency. She’s demanding to know why president Ingold pays herself a $43,000 salary as a property manager. She wants to know why her association’s legal budget suddenly doubled after Levin was hired.  She’s demanding an audit (there’s been only one audit on the building and that was eighteen years ago). Other condo owners are furious because it’s impossible to sell a unit if a buyer can’t see an audit of the association’s finances. Most are afraid to speak out for fear of getting a ‘Levin letter’.

Lawyer Levin used to be in the state legislature.

Now he’s is in the running to be elected as a Cook County Judge.

As I said in my headline…Phew!


original source:


Whew! Some Crooks do it Right!

We get word from Chicago that an Arizona man has been sent to prison for stealing 2 million dollars from three condo associations. Jay Strauss, of Scottsdale, Arizona, had been mixing the money from the three associations for at least the past three years. Then he’d siphon off money to pay for his own real estate investments.  He might never have been caught except that his own company went broke, and suddenly the condo associations discovered their own accounts had been depleted.

But what a way to go!  Always let the U.S. Attorney prosecute your case! Strauss pleaded guilty and got three years in prison. Well, that’s kind of an exaggeration.  His first 18 months will be spent at a hospital. Seems the poor fellow is suffering health problems and is in a wheelchair.  Restitution has been ordered, but if you believe that’ll ever be paid then you still believe in tooth fairies and Easter bunnies.

A special note to potential thieves: don’t ever rob a bank or a 7/11. The take is too small. Rob a Homeowners Association. Most of them are too dumb to know they’ve even been robbed, and your prison sentence will be miniscule.

Finally, a special note to all Homeowner Associations: do a forensic audit of your HOA books.  The chances are extraordinarily high that you’ve already been robbed. It’s too easy, it’s too untraceable, and it’s too difficult to prosecute. And mind the old wisdom that half of all people will steal if they don’t think they’ll get caught.  If you’re honest, your board member is not. 50/50. Tragic, but true.

Ward Lucas
Author of
Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association