MIAMI – The city of Miami in October filed a lawsuit against six companies that own nine buildings, which state records show are run by Denise Vaknin.
The city told Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez it is owed more than $2.4 million in fines related to "code enforcement, building, solid waste and fire violations. This total continues to increase due to ongoing per diem fines and interest fees."
According the city attorney's office, the properties have much of the same issues since the lawsuit was filed last October, to include still not being compliant, most of which include water damage, caved-in ceilings, mold, railing and handrail damage, a 40/50-year re-certification and other structural matters. All code liens continue to accrue.
The city has moved for an entry of final judgment after the defendant corporations defaulted.
A motion for default final judgment is set for June 4 at 9 a.m. before Judge Barbara Areces.
"The owner hired a property manager and a construction company," the city attorney's office told Local 10. "They have submitted plans on two buildings and have one more coming in. We are pushing forward with the suit to achieve full compliance."
An order of default was entered against all of the corporate entities on Feb. 23. The city filed a motion for final judgment on March 10. The city then filed a motion asking the court to appoint a receiver on April 28.
"What this means in plain English," explained former state and federal prosecutor David Weinstein, "is that the corporate defendants failed to respond to the complaint within the statutorily mandated time frame. As a result, the court said you lose for failing to defend yourselves. But as you know, that doesn't mean the city has won. They then have to get a final judgment and then they have to enforce/collect on the final judgment. Having a receiver appointed means that whatever money comes into the corporate defendants has to go through the receiver before it is disbursed. The tenants need to keep paying their rent. It just doesn't go directly to the corporate entities once a receiver is appointed."
A motion for receivership has not been set yet.
"The city attorney's office is working through the court system to bring these properties into compliance by holding its owners accountable for the poor living conditions of the residents," Miami city attorney Victoria Mendez said in a statement. "We hope to improve the quality of life for these citizens through our courts."
Below is a list from the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations of the six companies and nine buildings owned by Vaknin:
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation provided a status of all the properties in question.
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