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Condo Crime Update PDF Print E-mail
Written by Francisco Alvarado, BT Contributor   
February 2019

The latest on Coronado and Admiral’s Port investigations

A CondoCrime_134-year-old woman busted for allegedly pilfering $72,000 from an Aventura condominium association’s bank account over a six-month span has been cleared of all charges against her.

On October 22, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute Maria Lola Martin on 22 felony counts, including one for grand theft and another for organized fraud over $50,000.

Three months earlier, Aventura police officials arrested Martin after discovering more than a dozen fraudulent transfers between September 2017 and February 2018 into her TD Bank personal account from a City National Bank account belonging to the master association of Coronado Condominium, an Aventura complex of three high-rise residential towers built along W. Country Club Drive in the 1970s.

The theft at the Coronado, as well as an ongoing criminal case against the former property manager of Admiral’s Port, a second condominium complex in Aventura, was the subject of a recent Biscayne Times cover story (“A Tale of Two Condos,” November 2018) about the ineffectiveness of a 2017 legislative measure to strengthen laws and criminal penalties in misconduct and corruption cases involving condo associations. Both cases are languishing in prosecutorial limbo.

CondoCrime_2

The trial date against Donovan Staley, who pleaded not guilty to charges that he stole money from laundry machines and shook down a contractor for a $6000 kickback while he managed Admiral’s Port, has been continued ten times since his arraignment October 4, 2017. Staley is due back in court March 13. His defense attorney and Miami-Dade State Attorney spokesman Ed Griffith declined comment.

“This case is still going through the court system and is currently under defense continuance,” says Aventura Police Department spokesman Chris Gorantis in an e-mail to the BT. “Unfortunately, these types of delays are out of our control and are part of the court process.”

Gorantis says both cases are still under active investigation by Aventura Police Department detectives and the State Attorney’s Office. However, he explains that the Coronado caper doesn’t fall under the new condo crime law because there is no evidence showing a board member or property management employee was involved in the theft.

CondoCrime_3According to an Aventura investigative police report, Coronado board member Francisca Wildi learned in March 2018 that then-board president Jeffrey Luxenberg closed the association’s operating account at City National Bank in late February 2018 owing to fraudulent activity, but that he hadn’t notified law enforcement officials. Luxenberg was not questioned by police.

Wildi filed a police complaint to track down who was responsible for 19 fraudulent transfers in four-figure increments totaling $72,000. Over the next seven months, Aventura Police investigators zeroed in on Martin, whose name was on a TD Bank account that received the funds.

According to a Miami-Dade State Attorney close-out memo obtained by the BT, prosecutors subsequently learned that $68,000 of the $72,000 deposited in Martin’s TD Bank account was then deposited into a business account for a company called The Tax Firm. Under questioning by investigators, the close-out memo states, Martin implicated her then-beau, a man named Andres Andriq, for setting up and controlling the TD Bank account.

“Coronado Condominiums had no association with the defendant or The Tax Firm,” the close-out memo states. “According to the defendant, Mr. Andriq convinced her to open an account in her name where he would conduct his business through it and thereby give her a better credit score.”

CondoCrime_4Martin told investigators that she provided all the bank account information to Andriq so he could access it. She gave police consent to search her phone, which contained text messages with her then-boyfriend proving her innocence. In one text exchange, Martin tells Andriq that the bank statements had arrived in the mail.

“In some of the texts, the defendant asks Mr. Andriq for permission to use the account to make a few personal purchases, including a dress,” the memo states. “In several texts, Mr. Andriq writes about making deposits into the account, speaks of the availability of funds, gives permission to the defendant to buy certain personal items. It is clear from the texts that Mr. Andriq is in control of the account.”

Because the case is ongoing, Gorantis and Griffith declined comment about Andriq. Efforts by the BT to contact him were unsuccessful. No one under that name is listed in the White Pages, Miami-Dade court records, or state corporation records. Reached on her cellphone, Martin declined comment.

 

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