MIAMI (CBSMiami) — “You serve at the pleasure and grace of the court,” declared Miami-Dade Judge Victoria Sigler.READ MORE: Miami Beach Police Investigate Possible Shooting On Collins Avenue
She was speaking to Caridad Ortega who she had appointed as the court’s receiver at International Park One Condominium. It was Ortega’s job to rescue the association from financial collapse.
Two years later, the association is still on the brink of being broke, and deferred maintenance has many residents upset about their buildings physical condition.
“I was embarrassed for you to come here today and visit me,” Maria Molina told CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez.
Yet Molina, a hard-working high school teacher, gave me a tour of all the buildings unsightly living conditions. It is something she blames on the court receiver and the board.
“Because I’m embarrassed that our elevators aren’t working and I’m paying for that elevator to work,” Molina said.
She showed Rodriguez walls falling apart and a balcony about to, walls that are bubbling, hallway tile that was dug up and a hazard she believes. Then there’s the mold inside one apartment that appears to be creeping outside into the common area hall.
“And nothing is being done. And so the money that is supposedly coming back to the association from the blanket receiver, we’re not seeing a penny of it,” Molina declared.
Judge Sigler learned this first hand as she went through the various units that had been in the receivership.
“Liens in excess of $17,000, and a collection of $187.52. I’m not sure the appointment of a receiver effectively achieved the result that the court had been looking for on that unit,” Sigler announced in open court.
Sigler and judges across Miami-Dade and Broward are learning about the realities of a business plan put together by APG Partners involving their collection and receivership program, of which Ms. Ortega’s company was a part.READ MORE: Residents Of Coral Gables Building Given 72 Hours To Vacate Over Structural Concerns
CBS4 Investigates obtained a copy of a power point presentation used to sell APG and other companies to condo associations in financial crisis, and in need of fee and rental collections. The document was presented to the judge in open court.
“We were able to learn of this document. Apparently it’s a brochure that the receiver would use to solicit the various associations,” Stuart Grossman told Judge Sigler as he handed her the document. After firing Ortega, Sigler hired Grossman to sort out the receivership mess at International Park One.
“In theory it could be very persuasive to an unsophisticated association that was in distress over the financial crisis,” opined Grossman. “Unfortunately as you can see as we just went through in court, it didn’t turn out that way and it was actually a disaster for the association.”
One of the things, he and his co-counsel, Stephanie Traband, discovered, was just how intertwined the ownership of all these companies really were.
“I mean my eyebrows immediately raised once I stepped into this,” explained Traband.
Described as “THE TEAM” In the power point presentation, we discovered that many of the companies are controlled by many of the same people APG Partners.
“Jose Pazos is the manager of International Park One’s Master Association. “I mean this is incestuous. There’s a lack of financial conflict of interest being disclosed to the judiciary.”
He said a representative of APG even attempted to recruit his company to become a part of the “team.”
Instead, he began tracking their business activities in predominately low and middle-income condo associations.
“They’re taking from people in blue-collar areas of the community. The hardest working people in this community who can least afford to be taken advantage of that’s where they’re going.”
Ms. Ortega’s attorney sent a statement that said in part that Ortega collected over 86-thousand dollars for the association during her 13-months as the receiver.
Currently, at least one lawmaker is drafting legislation to put limits on these receiverships.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Vaccination Sites In South Florida