Prosecutors: HOA board members stole millions from residents...

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
114,763
87,271
113
MIAMI (AP) — Several current and former board members on one of Florida’s largest homeowners associations have been charged with stealing more than $2 million of residents’ money.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced a mix of theft, fraud and money laundering charges on Tuesday against current president Monica Isabel Ghilardi, 52; board member Myriam Arango Rodgers, 76; former board member Yoleidis Lopez Garcia, 47; former president Marglli Gallego, 41; and Jose Antonio Gonzalez, 45, who is Gallego’s husband and accused of running two companies that were paid at least $1.26 million in HOA funds.

“This case is not closed,” Fernandez Rundle said during a news conference. “These are not the end of the criminal arrests.”

Gallego had been the Hammocks Community Association’s president until she was arrested in April 2021 on theft charges. That arrest was part of a long-running probe that also led to the new charges. The HOA oversees 40 communities and over 6,500 units in West Kendall, located southwest of Miami.

A significant part of the investigation centered around board members writing checks, in some cases for hundreds of thousands of dollars, to vendors for services that weren’t actually being provided, prosecutors said. Then the vendors would return laundered money after keeping a portion for themselves.

Residents have been fighting for years to get rid of Gallego and the board members who support her, the Miami Herald reported. Residents tried to oust the board in a January election when hundreds of voters standing in line were not allowed to vote because of a fake phoned-in bomb threat and again during a July recall election when the board threw out two-thirds of the ballots cast.

The association had been operating on an annual budget of about $3.7 million until this spring, when the board adopted of budget of more than $10 million, according to court documents. The new budget means residents face monthly maintenance and service fee increases of up to 400%. The increase has prompted a lawsuit, which is pending.

Fernandez Rundle pointed out during the news conference that HOAs in Florida fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, but state law gives the department little enforcement power.

An attorney listed for Gallego’s 2021 case didn’t immediately responded to an email seeking comment from The Associated Press. Court and jail records didn’t immediately list attorneys for Gallego’s husband or the other board members.

 
  • Wow
Reactions: Ree4

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
127,550
124,936
113
I guess that’s what happens in a crime ridden state.

Weird coincidence here how residents in a Red State that supports a party which actively tries to remove oversight and whistleblower protections would have this happen....

Remember that much of "less government" means "less oversight" and a bigger opportunity for things like this to happen. And you have an entire HOA Board of people doing this, because they could not launder the money if other Board members were doing their jobs in getting competing bids on things.

I guess if you elect grifters and idiots to your HOA Board, you should expect the same results as when you elect them as your State and Federal representatives...
 

Finance85

HR Legend
Oct 22, 2003
18,781
20,268
113
Weird coincidence here how residents in a Red State that supports a party which actively tries to remove oversight and whistleblower protections would have this happen....

Remember that much of "less government" means "less oversight" and a bigger opportunity for things like this to happen. And you have an entire HOA Board of people doing this, because they could not launder the money if other Board members were doing their jobs in getting competing bids on things.

I guess if you elect grifters and idiots to your HOA Board, you should expect the same results as when you elect them as your State and Federal representatives...
You have no idea what you are talking about, as usual. HOA's are pretty strictly regulated in FL. Goldmom will be along shortly to school you.
 

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
127,550
124,936
113
You have no idea what you are talking about, as usual. HOA's are pretty strictly regulated in FL.

Not THAT strictly regulated, apparently.

Where was the HOA "management company" in all this?

In CA, we had specific licensing/regulation for HOA management companies, who would have more than likely identified this (they usually have the experience to know what any particular "contract amount" might cost, because they serve multiple communities and see bids all the time).

(BTW, You looked pretty stupid on that BMW repair claim that "I had no idea what I was talking about".)

I've been on HOA Boards, myself, for >15 years here. And I know that in CA and CO, it would be pretty difficult to carry out this kind/level of fraud, because you'd need an entire Board AND the management company/representative engaged in it, together.

When your state reduced regulations/oversight on entities like this, it's pretty easy for stuff to go sideways. Boards can be "lazy" with bids and costs, which can cost your community a LOT more money; but fraud is an entirely different ballgame.

FWIW, I saved my HOA >$100k this past year.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Torg and VodkaSam

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
114,763
87,271
113
You have no idea what you are talking about, as usual. HOA's are pretty strictly regulated in FL. Goldmom will be along shortly to school you.

From the story in the OP:

Fernandez Rundle pointed out during the news conference that HOAs in Florida fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, but state law gives the department little enforcement power.

HOAs are little kingdoms, generally run by bullies who enjoy the "power" of their position.

It's like if the student government actually had any influence over kids' lives. The "popular" kids would be the ones elected and then they'd proceed to make the unpopular kids' lives even more miserable than they already are.
 

goldmom

HR Legend
Mar 29, 2002
21,232
24,885
113
Weird coincidence here how residents in a Red State that supports a party which actively tries to remove oversight and whistleblower protections would have this happen....

Remember that much of "less government" means "less oversight" and a bigger opportunity for things like this to happen. And you have an entire HOA Board of people doing this, because they could not launder the money if other Board members were doing their jobs in getting competing bids on things.

I guess if you elect grifters and idiots to your HOA Board, you should expect the same results as when you elect them as your State and Federal representatives...
Starting your daily argument for amusement again.
Hmm it just proves what I’ve thought about 95% of your posts. Ignorance and a lack of shame in posting mostly 💩.

Florida Statutes 720 and 718 have been in place for a very long time over Democrat and Republican governorships.
The DBPR has administrative oversight but violations are still referred for criminal and legal action.
It’s said that the sewage backups start in SoFla and the 💩 overflows into the rest of the State.
Lots of things added up to a bad situation here that if scratched to just below the headlines would give a better picture. I wonder if you now see why many of us FSU visitors turn up our noses on Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties?
 

MitchLL

HR Legend
Dec 26, 2018
23,111
37,164
113
Starting your daily argument for amusement again.
Hmm it just proves what I’ve thought about 95% of your posts. Ignorance and a lack of shame in posting mostly 💩.

Florida Statutes 720 and 718 have been in place for a very long time over Democrat and Republican governorships.
The DBPR has administrative oversight but violations are still referred for criminal and legal action.
It’s said that the sewage backups start in SoFla and the 💩 overflows into the rest of the State.
Lots of things added up to a bad situation here that if scratched to just below the headlines would give a better picture. I wonder if you now see why many of us FSU visitors turn up our noses on Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties?
^^^^^Right on cue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Joes Place

goldmom

HR Legend
Mar 29, 2002
21,232
24,885
113
Florida has no mandatory regulation that HOA’s must have a Management Company. The opportunity for mischief is much greater in self-managed communities.
 

BubsFinn

HR Legend
Nov 20, 2004
29,264
23,854
113
From the story in the OP:

Fernandez Rundle pointed out during the news conference that HOAs in Florida fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, but state law gives the department little enforcement power.

HOAs are little kingdoms, generally run by bullies who enjoy the "power" of their position.

It's like if the student government actually had any influence over kids' lives. The "popular" kids would be the ones elected and then they'd proceed to make the unpopular kids' lives even more miserable than they already are.
Do you still have marks from all the atomic wedgies, or are they all on the inside now?
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

HR Legend
Gold Member
Oct 13, 2006
27,634
37,267
113
I know what I don't know.....

I'm in a HOA for the first time and find the rules ect pretty F'ing confusing.
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
114,763
87,271
113
I know what I don't know.....

I'm in a HOA for the first time and find the rules ect pretty F'ing confusing.

Our HOA went through the "shed wars" a few years ago.

The original C&Rs banned any sort of outbuilding not permanently attached to the main structure. A couple of jackasses tried to get around that by "permanently" attaching an aluminum shed to the side of their houses. It also became known that one board member secretly had a backyard shed, but there was no way to see it unless you were actually in his backyard.

After several months of bitter conflict, residents approved a change allowing sheds as long as they can't be seen from the street.
 

goldmom

HR Legend
Mar 29, 2002
21,232
24,885
113
From the story in the OP:

Fernandez Rundle pointed out during the news conference that HOAs in Florida fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, but state law gives the department little enforcement power.

HOAs are little kingdoms, generally run by bullies who enjoy the "power" of their position.

It's like if the student government actually had any influence over kids' lives. The "popular" kids would be the ones elected and then they'd proceed to make the unpopular kids' lives even more miserable than they already are.
You’re mistaken. There are “types” who do tend to be drawn to volunteering for the Board and on every board I ever worked with it was always a mix of those types.
If you’re not one of the “popular” types quite frankly it may be because the second you walk into the room people can smell you and it’s a fact that you smell bad cause you smoke. I had one guy like that. The others thought he was a good member but they dreaded sitting next to him. 🤧

HOA Managers have to herd a group of whoever shows up (like herding cats) since they play no part in selecting the Board.
Let’s just hope that the Board actually obtained the insurance package and paid for it.
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
114,763
87,271
113
You’re mistaken. There are “types” who do tend to be drawn to volunteering for the Board and on every board I ever worked with it was always a mix of those types.
If you’re not one of the “popular” types quite frankly it may be because the second you walk into the room people can smell you and it’s a fact that you smell bad cause you smoke. I had one guy like that. The others thought he was a good member but they dreaded sitting next to him. 🤧

HOA Managers have to herd a group of whoever shows up (like herding cats) since they play no part in selecting the Board.
Let’s just hope that the Board actually obtained the insurance package and paid for it.

I can't imagine any insurance policy covering THIS.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

HR Legend
Gold Member
Oct 13, 2006
27,634
37,267
113
Our HOA went through the "shed wars" a few years ago.

The original C&Rs banned any sort of outbuilding not permanently attached to the main structure. A couple of jackasses tried to get around that by "permanently" attaching an aluminum shed to the side of their houses. It also became known that one board member secretly had a backyard shed, but there was no way to see it unless you were actually in his backyard.

After several months of bitter conflict, residents approved a change allowing sheds as long as they can't be seen from the street.
Ours just added mandatory fee's for just submitting requests...put in a pool/patio ect $300 for a pool...$50 for a tree.

I'm wondering what I pay my HOA fees for :)
 

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
127,550
124,936
113
Starting your daily argument for amusement again.
Hmm it just proves what I’ve thought about 95% of your posts. Ignorance and a lack of shame in posting mostly 💩.

Florida Statutes 720 and 718 have been in place for a very long time over Democrat and Republican governorships.
So?

What do those statutes require?

Do they require certifications for management companies hired by the Associations (I think not).

I can guarantee you that California has FAR higher standards and regulations in place on HOAs than FL.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Torg

SB_SB

HR Heisman
Apr 4, 2006
6,369
6,413
113
From the story in the OP:

Fernandez Rundle pointed out during the news conference that HOAs in Florida fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, but state law gives the department little enforcement power.

HOAs are little kingdoms, generally run by bullies who enjoy the "power" of their position.

It's like if the student government actually had any influence over kids' lives. The "popular" kids would be the ones elected and then they'd proceed to make the unpopular kids' lives even more miserable than they already are.

With your description it sounds like DeSantis thinks he's in charge of an HOA and not a state.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Joes Place

artradley

HR Legend
Apr 26, 2013
30,849
55,147
113
You have no idea what you are talking about, as usual. HOA's are pretty strictly regulated in FL. Goldmom will be along shortly to school you.

No, I’ve become very familiar with the HOA world, and there is zero police power over them in any state. There are all kinds of laws, but as I tell people who are upset about something, “The Board can do whatever they want, period. They can violate any law on the book, but the only way you can stop them is to hire a lawyer and sue.”

Some HOA’s don’t even hold annual elections, especially after COVID. The board will say this year’s meeting is canceled, so the old board will stay in place. Sue us.
 

artradley

HR Legend
Apr 26, 2013
30,849
55,147
113
So?

What do those statutes require?

Do they require certifications for management companies hired by the Associations (I think not).

I can guarantee you that California has FAR higher standards and regulations in place on HOAs than FL.

This is true. California is the gold standard. But even there, HOAs get by with anything they want until someone is willing to lawyer up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Torg

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
127,550
124,936
113
No, I’ve become very familiar with the HOA world, and there is zero police power over them in any state.
"Police power"? no

But there ARE rules and regulations that are much stricter in some states.
And we still held elections during Covid; they were just done by proxy and on Zoom, because that's what the bylaws require, and the state does have rules in place about following bylaws....
 

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
127,550
124,936
113
This is true. California is the gold standard. But even there, HOAs get by with anything they want

No, they do not. They must follow basic guidelines as established by the state regulations.

We had to have an independent management company with a manager who had specific training/certifications. That was law at the time (no idea what they are now). It's already been posted in this thread that FL has no such rule in place, which eliminates a key safeguard in how money is tracked and spent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Torg

artradley

HR Legend
Apr 26, 2013
30,849
55,147
113
"Police power"? no

But there ARE rules and regulations that are much stricter in some states.
And we still held elections during Covid; they were just done by proxy and on Zoom, because that's what the bylaws require, and the state does have rules in place about following bylaws....

Yes, the rules are there. Every state and every association’s bylaws requires elections. But if the board simply doesn’t hold them, nothing happens unless homeowners pony up for a lawyer.
 

noStemsnoSTICKS

HR All-American
Feb 16, 2006
3,779
3,212
113
Sactown
You’re mistaken. There are “types” who do tend to be drawn to volunteering for the Board and on every board I ever worked with it was always a mix of those types.
If you’re not one of the “popular” types quite frankly it may be because the second you walk into the room people can smell you and it’s a fact that you smell bad cause you smoke. I had one guy like that. The others thought he was a good member but they dreaded sitting next to him. 🤧

HOA Managers have to herd a group of whoever shows up (like herding cats) since they play no part in selecting the Board.
Let’s just hope that the Board actually obtained the insurance package and paid for it.
This. In California the HOA would be required to carry a fidelity or employee theft policy. I'm sure they have similar protections in FL.
 

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
127,550
124,936
113
Yes, the rules are there. Every state and every association’s bylaws requires elections. But if the board simply doesn’t hold them, nothing happens unless homeowners pony up for a lawyer.
Don't believe this is the case in all states. If the Board openly violates state laws and bylaws, the individual Board members can become personally liable, as they are no longer indemnified from civil matters.

So, if you have a Board stupid enough to take on those personal financial liabilities, I supposed things like that could happen. Generally speaking, Board members act within the bylaws, because then their work is fully indemnified from frivolous lawsuits.
 

Latest posts