HOA, condo, & co-op corruption, fraud, & theft roundup (March 2018)*

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Former Woodstock condo treasurer accused of embezzling $137,000

By John Penney, The Bulletin 225
jpenney@norwichbulletin.com, (860) 857-6965

Posted Mar 23, 2018 at 9:37 AM
Updated Mar 23, 2018 at 9:38 AM
WOODSTOCK – A Woodstock man is accused of embezzling more than $130,000 while serving as the treasurer of a condominium association, state police said.

Derek Jette, 37, of 81 Underwood Road, was charged on Thursday with first-degree larceny after a month-long investigation into discrepancies in the accounts of the Fawn Ridge Condominium Association, according to an arrest warrant application.

Police said Dennis Champney, the recently-appointed president of the association, approached police on March 3 and accused Jette of embezzling condo funds for the last five years. He said $137,531 was discovered missing after he began investigating high arsenic levels in the complex’s water system.

Champney said the water company declined to fix the problem due to a lack of payments from the association regarding a water filtration system installed in 2011. Champney said Jette, as part of his duties, was responsible for making the requested payment.

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A former condo treasurer has been arrested for stealing more than $130K over a 5-year period. Worse than that, now the condo association has no money to repair a broken water filtration system, exposing residents to unsafe levels of arsenic. The association does not hire an onsite manager. 


Attempted embezzlement nets probation (MI)

Jennifer Jo Noteware could dodge jail sentence

BY KYLE KAMINSKI kkaminski@record-eagle.com 20 hrs ago

TRAVERSE CITY — A former homeowners association treasurer will avoid jail time in favor of probation after pleading guilty to attempted embezzlement from the neighborhood’s bank account.

Jennifer Jo Noteware, 52, of Traverse City, last week was sentenced to 30 days in jail for attempted embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000. Her sentence will be held in abeyance after serving only three days behind bars if she’s able to successfully complete two years of probation.

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A plea deal allows Noteware to avoid going to jail.

However, is the light sentence is likely to lead to repeat offenses?

It’s likely, according to a 2016 study:

White Collar Crime: Recidivism, Deterrence, and Social Impact

The findings concur with a 1993 study:

White Collar Crime and Criminal Careers



Heritage Insurance seeking hefty rate hikes, blames claims fraud

Ron Hurtibise
Sun Sentinel

March 2, 2018 2:40 P.M.

Heritage Property & Casualty, one of the state’s largest homeowner insurance companies, is seeking double-digit rate increases for new and renewing customers this year.

It’s part of a storm of large rate increases by insurers throughout the state. Industry officials blame insurance fraud tied to the “Assignment of Benefits” crisis. They add that further rate hikes stemming from Hurricane Irma last year will start hitting consumers this summer.

Heritage’s increases, if approved, will affect tens of thousands of customers throughout the state — including most of the 92,200 former customers of state-run Citizens Property & Casualty assumed by Heritage through the state’s “takeout” program.

Those customers, called “Select” policyholders by Heritage, would see rates increased by an average 14.5 percent beginning May 1, according to the Clearwater-based company’s rate filings with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The agency has final say on whether they will be approved.

Also affected would be 60,521 consumers who weren’t acquired through the Citizens takeout program — who Heritage calls “Preferred” policyholders. They would get a statewide average 14.2 percent increase upon renewal after July 1.

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The Assignment of Benefits (AOB) scam is well-known in Florida. First, an insurance contractor convinces the insured consumer to allow direct billing of the insurance company. Then the contractor completes unnecessary work an sends inflated invoices to insurance companies. When insurers deny claims, the contractors sue, hoping for an out of court settlement.  

Of course, contractors accuse insurers of underpaying claims. But insurers say the common practice of AOB is responsible for substantial premium rate hikes. 



Lawsuit: Jade Ocean Condo Developer Stole from Project Lenders, Investors
Developer Fortune International Realty denies allegations that it siphoned off profits by feeding funds to affiliates.

By Lidia Dinkova | UPDATEDFeb 28, 2018 at 03:54 PM

Fortune International Group owes $1.5 million to a lender in the developer’s luxury Jade Ocean high-rise condominium in Sunny Isles Beach, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court lawsuit claims.

The Miami-based developer, led by president and CEO Edgardo Defortuna, built the 51-story beachfront tower at 17121 Collins Ave. as part of its Jade collection that includes the 53-story Jade Beach and the 57-story Jade Signature, both a walking distance south from Jade Ocean.

Fortune International used a network of affiliated companies to funnel investments and loans for the development of Jade Ocean in part by collecting administrative and commission fees higher than what it was entitled to, according to the complaint.

While the lawsuit alleges Fortune International and Defortuna stole a total of $75 million from various investors and lenders, the complaint focuses on one lender.

Iver Invest & Trust Ltd. is owed more than $1.5 million after lending $2 million for Jade Ocean at a 14 percent annual interest rate, according to the Jan. 29 complaint.

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The lawsuit against developer Fortune International Group alleges fraud and misrepresentation to lenders and investors, as well as schemes to siphon money off the top of each transaction by charging inflated fees and commissions. 

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