MIAMI – A Miami-Dade judge put the Hammocks Community Association in receivership on Thursday allowing a court-appointed receiver to handle the business of the association with a temporary board of directors.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko listened to some residents of The Hammocks neighborhood during a civil court hearing at the Dade County Courthouse in downtown Miami and said they were going to set up a hotline to help classify the issues residents faced with the association.
“I think that it’s important that things come to light so that anything that is inappropriate can be seen,” Butchko said.
Butchko also said the receiver works for her and told the attorneys who were representing the association that she was ordering the current leaders of the association to leave the association’s office and the property. After her order, there was a roaring round of applause. Butchko then issued several orders.
“I need the hard drives today, seized ... I need those computers ... I am sending a lawyer there right now. I don’t want boxes to leave,” Butchko said later adding, “I need vehicle registrations for every vehicle owned by The Hammocks ... Get a locksmith out there.”
Idalmen Ardisson is among the more than 18,000 Hammocks residents who live in 40 subcommunities that include more than 6,500 single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. The neighborhood’s boundaries are from Southwest 88 to 120 streets and from 147 to 162 avenues in the West End area, just west of Kendall.
“Today is a good day for the Hammocks, for the Hammocks community, and for all of the associations out there that are going through this, pay attention, this could happen to you too,” said Ardisson, who has lived in the Hammocks for nearly three decades.
The Hammocks administrative crisis, which resulted in five arrests for misappropriation of funds, follows years of residents’ activism after the homeowners’ association increased fees by 400%. Ardisson, also known as “Chicky,” is the leader of Justice for the Hammocks organization and she was among the leaders of the board recall.
“There are homeowners out there that really can’t afford it,” Ardisson said outside of the courtroom. “There were homeowners when we were knocking on doors making them aware of this increase who literally looked at me with tears.”
Butchko promised the residents that the civil court was “going to sort it out.” She also requested a list of all of the law firms that represented the association. Butchko also praised the Hammocks residents for fighting for the recall amid threats.
“You guys are brave; it’s all over,” Butchko said.
Butchko asked the attorneys present who were representing the association if the association was paying for the criminal defense fees of the association leaders who were arrested. The attorneys said they didn’t know.
“How could we not know that? Guys, the association is not a private piggy bank,” Butchko said.
The criminal cases were still ongoing.
Marglli Gallego, Monica Ghilardi, Jose Antonio Gonzalez, Myriam Rodgers, and Yoleidis Lopez are facing charges in a case that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle described as “a criminal enterprise intended to benefit certain board members and their relatives and relatives’ businesses.”
“More arrests are possible,” Fernandez Rundle said after the arrests adding that the criminal investigation was ongoing.
Judge to Hammocks residents: ‘You guys are brave!’
Judge to attorneys: ‘The association is not a private piggy bank’
Judge to Hammocks residents: ‘The board works for you all’