Residents allege condo leaders are cashing in on positions
State investigating Oakland Park condo for allegedly failing to release financial documents
OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is investigating an Oakland Park condo board for allegedly failing to release financial documents.
The same board was also fined recently for failing to hold legally required elections; a group of residents complained about it to the state.
Those residents say there is a lot more going wrong at Summer Lake Condominium than just hiding documents from the public.
"All they care about is making the God almighty dollar and they don't care who they step on," said resident Jeanne Johnson of those who are running the condo board.
"We want them removed," said neighbor Sandra Creighton.
The women are talking about condo President Haresh "John" Chatomal and past President Morton Kronenberg. They allege the two men have used their volunteer positions on the nonprofit board to reap big profits.
Their own neighborhood investigation began after resident Natasha Cherubin discovered that Kronenberg, while serving as board president, signed off on paying a management company that was founded by his wife, Hasina Kronenberg, over $300,000 during a two-year period.
They said Kronenberg's wife removed her name from that corporation, 24 Seven Management, Inc., when Summer Lake began making the payments, but they believe the Kronenbergs controlled the company at all times.
When asked about Summer Lake's hiring of the company founded by his wife, Kronenberg said he couldn't "recall" it happening.
Kronenberg left the board in 2009, but his business partner Chatomal took his place. The residents said the two men have been using their positions on the board to help them buy, rent and flip condos in Summer Lake with their private company, Property Portfolio, reaping tens of thousands in profits on the deals.
Property records show Kronenberg and Chatomal have purchased numerous distressed properties in the condominium from upside-down owners and banks, and later sold them for profits in the tens of thousands of dollars.
In one seemingly egregious case, the two men orchestrated a short sale of a unit that had been deeded to Summer Lake to their own company for $83,000 and then sold it just four months later for $101,000.
They're not just doing wheeling and dealing at Summer Lake. Kronenberg is now president at Royal Poinciana Luxury Condominiums in Pompano Beach, and the two men work out of the management office there and are buying and selling condos there as well.
When questioned about it at the Royal Poinciana office, Kronenberg said they are doing nothing wrong.
"There is nothing wrong with a democratic society for someone who is on a board to buy property from willing partners," said Kronenberg. "This is not the stock market, I don't have inside information."
The question is in the case of foreclosures: Do Kronenberg and Chatomal have certain facts that other potential buyers don't have, such as information on the condition of foreclosed units that are locked to potential bidders? Records also show that in several cases upside-down owners have sold or quit-claimed their units directly to Property Portfolio, and the men then either flip them quickly for a profit or rent them out before selling.
"When you buy a property you have to remodel it, you have to do things to it to make it sellable," said Kronenberg. "The profit you indicate is a gross figure that you have to take off various expenses."
The complaining residents said they have seen the condo association's maintenance men working in the middle of the day on units owned by Kronenberg and Chatomal. Resident Silvia Pisani said she confronted one worker about it.
"I asked him, 'Why are you here? I pay for you, you have to work for the condominium, not his apartment,'" Pisani recalled.
Kronenberg admitted to using Summer Lake's maintenance men to work on the units his company was buying and renting, but said they worked on those units only after hours or on weekends.
"They can say whatever they want," said Kronenberg of his accusers. "If they have a case, they can take it to court."
On top of those questions, the board under Chatomal's control has also failed to hold mandated elections, according to state records, leading to a recent fine of $4,600 from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Creighton also said the board has refused to turn over financial records to her as required by law and that the DBPR is currently investigating that allegation.
"I started asking for the financials," said Creighton. "I got stonewall, stonewall, stonewall."
Chatomal refused to go on camera, but in a written statement claimed he has done nothing wrong.
"They still have control of the checks and we want them gone," said Creighton.
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