and Video Courtesy of CBS Channel 4, Miami
By Eliott Rodriguez
March 11, 2015
MIAMI – Miami-Dade Judge Victoria Sigler is not a happy jurist.
“I’m a fireman,” Sigler informed the courtroom. “I put out the biggest fire. And this has become a big fire in my lap.”
The judge is talking about the situation at International Park One Condominium, specifically the units that were placed under a receiver by the court.
Receivers are supposed to rescue distressed units and recover association fees.
Judge Jennifer Bailey is the chief administrative judge in the 11th circuit.
“Receiverships exist to benefit the association,” insisted Bailey.
But do they? CBS4 obtained a statement for unit #406 at International Park One.
Between September of 2013 and July of 2014, the receiver claimed payments totaling $11,429.00 for the unit.
Of that, the association was paid only $4,351.00. The remaining $7,078 went to the receiver and other companies.
|“No receiver is ever going to file a report that says I’m a liar and I’m cheating them! If the receivership is benefiting more than the association then obviously that’s something that should be drawn to the courts attention,” Bailey said.
So we showed Bailey one of many liens issued by a company called APG Partners, LLC.
This one is against a unit at Las Vistas at Doral.
What is listed as a $6.81 unpaid assessment, became a claim by the receiver totaling $13,551.00.
Another unpaid association assessment of $462.70… At a unit in Lago Grande in Hialeah, suddenly became a claim of lien of more than $21,000.
Bailey admits the courts don’t know what some receivers are doing.
“That’s right,” confessed Bailey.
“I’m just curious what you might have done to believe that you earned a fee of $2,500 for unit #530?” asked Judge Sigler.
Sigler is questioning Caridad Ortega, the receiver for International Park One and other associations. That’s because one condo owner got a lawyer and began demanding answers.
“Unfortunately, they took the law into their own hands, charging excessive fees and locking her out of her own property,” explained Luis Torrens who represented the new owners
That owner even provided Judge Sigler with a phony court order that had been taped to her front door.
“Well I seriously doubt this was my order because I rarely write orders in crayon,” she declared as she looked at the fake document.
Sigler was furious.
“I regret to inform you that your client’s position as receiver, as of today is going to be ended,” said Judge Sigler.
But would Sigler’s actions be enough to stop collection of 13 liens we discovered, all filed by Ortega on May 16th of last year. Each was for $5,000 without any details. When a CBS producer tried to ask her about the liens…
“Why do you file these claims of liens and just list $5,000 and no details?” asked the producer of Ortega.
Without answering Ortega left down the courthouse stairwell, and has refused all requests for an interview.
When we showed up at her office in Coral Gables, we discovered she worked right next door to APG Partners, who had also filed many of the liens we uncovered.
“And who is APG Partners?” Judge Sigler asked Ortega’s attorney.
“That is the collection agency that works for the association,” replied Bridgette Alvarez.
A month later, we returned to APG to ask them questions. Their offices had been trashed and abandoned, according to the landlord, who said the company owed 90-days back rent, and even broke into the office after he changed the locks.
“And the cops came and I told them they were burglarizing the place. It was open. I mean it was a locked space and it had been abandoned so under the terms of the lease it was my space.”
APG and Ms. Ortega’s lawyers sent a statement that said in part, that they didn’t abandon their offices. He claimed their dispute is with the landlord over money.
The lawyer also stated that Ms. Ortega collected over $86,000 dollars for the association during her 13-months as the receiver.
In January, both APG and Ortega agreed to drop all liens filed against units in International Park One.
Coming up tomorrow night we discover other condos throughout South Florida that have identical problems.
Could your condo be on the list?