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alleged Nevada racketeering; M& A is an option that can work elsewhere 2012/02/09 11:12  
1- The Nevada racketeering allegations are not occurring in a convent nor Amish commune. Given the US (govt) estimates of at least 50/60 million Americans living in this general type of housing, RICO conspiracies show the big bucks at stake. At online news websites in many parts of the U.S., incredibly bitter comments from current and former owners show there is a need for a more level playing field in dispute resolution but often a big lack of "good faith" for the least expensive solutions. American racketeers do not have to mediate for other than cashflow reasons or with the FBI and legislators finally acting.

2- Whether mediation is a viable option in Ontario : (about a prior comment) I respectfully do not share any view that mediation and arbitration M&A is not an option for most Ontario disputes.

Beside being out of sight and statistical scrutiny, one big problem about M&A is that condo and other disputants usually want it for nothing instead of being able to try to externalize costs of non-LSUC costs totally onto the general Ontario taxpayer (like the Landlord and Tenant Board and its predecessors ). Only by realistically costing non-resolution or civil litigation would its value start to get understood.

M&A changes are among ACMO-CCI "committee" proposals to the Legislature dated May 27 2011 ( )

In a nutshell the Committee's joint ACMO-CCI proposals would end – as a proven prior hurdle to Superior Court hearing application for a s 134 court compliance order- COMPULSORY PROVEN but failed attempts to use the mediation and arbitration M&A for alleged non-Act violations.

M&A is designed to be pragmatic and upfront, in the case of mediation more like cleaning sparkplugs before ordering a new engine.

M & A tends to be a more level playing field. The M&A route was shown how to be proven triggered inexpensively in Peng Li, and the next step arbitration gains some degree of “court order” status, even by “ex parte” application by only one of the disputants.

Both are a prudent cheapest and quietest attempt by the disputants themselves to stay out of a progressively formal adjudication process that tends to merely sort out degrees of loss for the disputants – winners or losers. The "real costs" include also clogged venue costs and judicial etc salaries getting sucked up MAYBE AVOIDABLY by the general Ontario non-condo taxpayers instead of applied to more worthy disputes than cats and parking.

IN NO WAY does the M&A hurdle prevent direct s134 application for any Act violations including s117 “Dangerous Activities”. In no way does it prevent direct application against s 135 Oppression.

M&A would not help against Nevada gangsters.

Good discussion, but I respectfully do not share any view that mediation and arbitration is not an option for most Ontario disputes. They just ain't free, require some degree of reality check, and may not be realistically valued until far too late.
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apologizing to cats 2012/02/09 11:43  
In case I inadvertently defamed cats in the preceeding, I am truly sorry. Please do not prowl around the backdoor.

No apology however is given to the mixed bag of the Committee's Legislature recommendations, one other of which would unleash the most powerful PART 10 development model yet, incredibly to be cashflow friendlier to address costs faced at certain of Ontario's environmentally sensitive areas. Even the Common Sense premiership recognized this danger in 1998.
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Drown Owners In Billable Hours 2012/02/09 12:12  
Mediation and Arbitration cannot be evaluated as a problem solver.

If there must be an attempt or waiver of those provision before any court document could be filed, much of the disputes would be solved.

We all see the boards make sure to keep it out of ADR.

Billable hours win the day!

How can you arbirate with a board that does not want a reserve fund? Or wants to cut out all the things they don't like from the study?
Richard Forster
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Mickey ()
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Re: Re: Criminals Taking Over the Boards - Multimillion Dollar Fraud (Part 8) 2012/02/10 01:05  
Carving up the money like it was a Thanksgiving turkey

In the fall of 2007 the Vistana board of directors announced it had reached a $19.1 million settlement with Rhodes Homes. Of that—according to a recent accounting by current Vistana board members—about $11 million in legal fees and reimbursement expenses went to two firms: Spilotro & Kulla and Quon Bruce Christensen. That left $8.1 million for repairs.

The first $11 million went to legal bills? Wow that is really big money. Keep in mind that this was just one of twelve condo corporations that this group had their claws into.

One night that September, David Amesbury, a lawyer for Silver Lining Construction, stood up at a meeting in the clubhouse. Amesbury, who owned a small firm in Las Vegas, specialized in criminal law. He was also a co-owner, along with Benzer and Kim, of the Courthouse Cafe. (Kim is the husband of the owner of the property management company.)

Remember this name.

That night, Amesbury told the Vistana residents that in 2005 the board had signed a “right-of-first-refusal” contract with Silver Lining Construction. The contract essentially guaranteed Benzer’s company 100 percent of the construction remediation money from the settlement. Moving forward, he said, there would be no competitive bids with other contractors. Amesbury did not respond to a request for an interview sent to his attorney.

The right to first refusal? How greedy can you get? The first $11 million was not enough for these guys; they wanted it all.

Over a roughly six-month period, from the fall of 2007 through the spring of 2008, various teams of subcontractors working for Silver Lining Construction came and went from the Vistana—painting buildings, replacing windows, and patching roofs. By May 2008, all but $450,000 of the $8.1 million was gone.

Shortly after, as the money ran out, the condo board members connected to Silver Lining Construction stopped showing up at meetings. “They just disappeared,” says current board member Wallace.

Sure they were gone. All the money had been sucked out of this condo. The only thing left were headaches.
M. Kutuzov
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Re: Re: Criminals Taking Over the Boards - Multimillion Dollar Fraud (Part 8) 2012/02/10 09:49  
These guys are better than Stinson!

One great way to pull a spin like this is to do a conversion to condo. Never finish it. Maybe offer another phase to keep cash rolling in too.

Build it and they will come - lawyers, managers and contractors - until the end of time!
Richard Forster
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American shared ownerships targetted by organized crime ... 2012/02/10 11:58  
should be raising concerns among Ontario legislators. Very good topic. Not proven at all how serious here.

Among other condo/POA organized crime stories that have emerged at were Gambino involvement in NEW YORK CITY eg
"Gambino crime family quietly made millions building high-rise condos across city" NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ONLINE - Feb 6th 2011 06_mobbuilt_condos_were_a_hit_gambinos_made_millions_in_construction_across_city.html#ixzz1DDPIxzth

also : "N.Y.C. condo extortions by Gambino mafia say Federal prosecutors"
( Feb 27/09 NY Daily News) Board controlled by thugs extorted fees and fines for alleged condo violations, feds say. Greentree Condominiums in Ozone Park. :Gambino gangsters controlled a condo board in Queens and extorted tens of thousands of dollars in bogus and inflated fees from owners when they tried to move, the feds say.
Testifying at the trial of reputed hit man Charles Carneglia, former residents of the Greentree Condominiums in Ozone Park said they were slammed with steep last-minute charges for "failure to comply with condo bylaws." ...
Right before he was due to close on the sale of his two-bedroom duplex in 2001, UPS driver Joseph Mauro said he was blind-sided with a $47,517.47 bill from the board for fees and fines he supposedly owed. The fines included $6,000 for "animal excrement thrown from the balcony daily" from 1996 to 2001, nearly $9,000 in water and sewer assessment fees and $1,792 for "collection of" water and sewer assessment fees. ... He said the "violations" began in 1996, the year he was voted off the board after having replaced a maintenance company the government contends was operated by a reputed Gambino associate.." -
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Re:American shared ownerships targetted by organized crime ... 2012/02/10 16:50  
Real estate is big bucks, but it ain't the appreciation, it's repairs, the consumables, the lawyers, the managers....
Richard Forster
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Re: Criminals Taking Over the Boards—Multimillion Dollar Fraud (Part 9) 2012/02/11 01:03  
In those early days, according to three longtime residents, construction problems at the Vistana were numerous but relatively minor. Some of the units had leaky roofs and windows. There were civil engineering issues involving the sidewalks. The internal fire and security systems didn’t work. Insulation, soundproofing, and plumbing needed fixing in some units.

In July 2003 the board members voted to retain the law firm Angius & Terry—rather than Nancy Quon’s firm—to represent them in a construction defect suit against their developer, Rhodes Homes. According to Murray, Quon told the Vistana residents, “I’ll be back.”

In the summer of 2004, Angius & Terry initiated the suit against Rhodes Homes. At the time, says Murray, the potential for a speedy settlement seemed promising. Rhodes Homes has since declared bankruptcy.

The builder went bankrupt? How unusual. I bet the same people are back in business using a different name.
M. Kutuzov
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Which Comes First - The Criminal Or The Crime? 2012/02/11 08:53  
Which comes first, the criminal or the crime?

Membership does have its rewards!

Until Tarion, builders could just roll in and roll out, and like Mickey says, change the name from 123456Ontario to 123457Ontario and do it again. If the builder did want to stick around, it would be a subcontractor disappearing, that created the problem, like forgetting the vapour barrier on a 16 storey brick high-rise condo, or failing to backfill foundations on a townhome developement.

The glass towers around Skydome are cold and leaking, but that battle is brewing.
Richard Forster
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Re: Criminals on the Condo Boards—Multi-million dollar Fraud (Part 10) 2012/02/11 17:44  
Another election surprise at the AGM

Murray first sensed trouble the following October, when the Vistana held its annual board election. The results were surprising. Two newcomers, an ex-cop and a union foreman, won spots on the board. It was odd, if only because nobody recalled seeing much of either man around the neighborhood. Shortly after the AGM, the two appointed another stranger to a vacant position.

In Nevada, state law requires that to serve on a homeowner association (condo) board, an individual must own property in the development.

On a hunch, Murray and a group of her neighbors pulled some property records. As it turned out, the newest appointee had recently purchased a mere 0.5 percent of a single condo at the Vistana. Digging around a little bit, the Vistana residents claim they found records that the new board members were employees of Silver Lining Construction.

A law stating that only unit owners can hold a position on the condo board has merit but we just read how easy it was for this gang to skirt that law.
M. Kutuzov
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Let the Parking spots and lockers vote too? 2012/02/11 18:11  
Mickey, what about allowing the parking and locker units to vote too? (Contrary to the Act.)

Great for turning up with a box of proxies at AGM time, don't ya think??

One of the former posters here, shared that little tidbit. Absentee owners can also own parking spots and lockers, there too! Owning a unit and being a resident are not requirements to own a locker and parking spots.
Richard Forster
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Re: We will get to the proxies 2012/02/11 18:42  
In due time we will get to the proxies.

You will see how a real professional deals with proxies and you will fully appreciate how far a board and management company can go to rig an election.
M. Kutuzov
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Phantom Buyers and Fake Buyers Working 2012/02/11 19:19  
Mickey - I am from Brampton! The federal Liberal candidates here would just show up with trunkfuls of "new" members, that's almost the same. Pieces of paper can rule.

The Toronto Real Estate Board made headlines in the Star, when the brokers that showed up late at night with boxes of ballots and proxies, collected from TREB broker offices to trade. The guy didn't win his promised position, so he squeeled.

I am sure your story will tell us about "enduring" proxies. They last forever, and can be hidden in the buyer agreement too. The are especially used condos with rental and timeshare pools. The developer/manager retains the voting rights, unless revoked in writing (in a very tricky process by the wording in the agreement). The occupant owners get screwed over in those deals too.

Proxies should be on the reform action plan too, when Alfonso gets around to it! Proxies are great tools. They don't hear and can't change their mind when facts or laws get in the way!
Richard Forster
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Re: Proxies have their uses 2012/02/11 20:24  
Some condos would never be able to hold an AGM if there were no proxies. How else would you get the required quorum? Especially in a building full of renters.

I got a kick out of Alfonso's last posting where he said that at 236 Albion Road's AGM last Monday, they had to adjourn for a while so the attendees could go and knock on doors to get enough proxies to achieve a quorum so they could change a by-law.

Now this is in a building that recently made the front page in the Toronto Star after Khan cheated them out of millions of dollars.

The previous board made errors that cost each of these thousands of dollars and will take eight to ten years to pay off and yet they will not go downstairs to see what is going on?

How unconcerned can owners become?

Anyway, proxies will always be with us.
M. Kutuzov
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Re: Proxies have their uses 2012/02/11 21:40  
Proxies are a right - darn - why are we agreeing all of a sudden?

Having more proxies that real people makes for a very short AGM. But, are they real? Are they used as specified, or does the holder think he/she is now king, and can do anything? Showing up with a handful of scratchy signatures, does make is easy for the revolutionaries or the status-quo?

I know we will come back to proxies, when we get around to reform issues. Why can't you proxy your mayor vote, or your MP/P vote then? Advance or extending polling for election of officers, is an easy one, leaving proxies for quorum or passing by-laws.

Blaming the past board is easier to do that figure away out of the mess. Showing up at a meeting that accomplishes nothing is another audience killer too.

Unconcerned or beat into submission, depressed and powerless? Why show up to hear your leaders have no solutions? They got worked by the system they trusted, and the people that promised to "fix" it all.

Can we put education on the reformation list too?

When the board has ignored the owners, pretended owners exist, and you have no rights, the rest of the year, why on AGM day, are owners all of a sudden important and needed?
Richard Forster
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Mickey ()
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Re: Whoever has the most proxies wins 2012/02/11 22:21  
To win control of a condo, one has to gather up the most proxies and/or voters who will show up at the AGM. It is that simple.

Unless there has been a scandal, the board has annoyed a lot of owners or there has been a large fee increase, the incumbents have a huge advantage. First of all, they have had three years or so to dispense political favours to the loyal and to punish the disgruntled. Let someone use a desired parking spot and they will vote for you for life.

They have total control of all the records. They can use quarterly newsletters to brag about a wonderful job they are doing; all on the condo's tab of course. They can hold BBQs, Christmas parties and bingo games to build political support.

They also learn early if there is anyone likely to run against them.

The management company will often help out with all kinds of back room support. The security guards, cleaners and contractors may all ask the owners to support the incumbents.

Finally, they can be telephoning people and knocking on doors getting proxies signed before their opponents received their packages in the mail.

Any outsider trying to win a position on the board will have to overcome all of this if they want to win. But it can be done.
M. Kutuzov
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Proxies Win - Owners Pay 2012/02/12 08:36  
Or they just fake it all. Who checks? Who knows?

We know they only reject the proxies collected by opponents.

Let's not forget the board approved candidates get to knock on doors, and solicit a vote. The hope-to-be candidate, will get the $500 lawyers letter, that he/she is breaking the solicitation rule, and the cease the action, or risk another lawyers letter and another letter and another $500 hit.

If you don't sign the proxy, you will pay $2,500 to recall the meeting, is in the fine print here, on the forms. By collecting more proxies than attendees, we save money.
Richard Forster
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Re: Clarification needed 2012/02/12 11:55  
"If you don't sign the proxy, you will pay $2,500 to recall the meeting, is in the fine print here, on the forms. By collecting more proxies than attendees, we save money."

I think you are saying that a note on the proxy says that if there is no quorum for the AGM, then the board will have to reschedule the meeting. I assume your board spends $2500 to hold their owner meetings.

That seems like a lot of money to me.

All candidates for the board can knock on doors and run a proper campaign. That is guaranteed by the Act. The lawyer's threatening letter can be successfully defended in court. There are times when you just got to take the board on.
M. Kutuzov
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Re: Criminals on the Condo Boards—Multi-million dollar Fraud (Part 11) 2012/02/12 12:11  
The Day of Reckoning
On Sept. 24, 2008, the day Murray had been anticipating finally arrived. That morning, and in the days that followed, agents from the FBI served search warrants and confiscated records at several businesses, including the offices of Silver Lining Construction, Platinum Community Services, and Quon Bruce Christensen.

Murray learned about the raids from a report on TV by Channel 8 investigative reporter George Knapp. “It blew me away,” she says. “I was so relieved that it was finally happening.”

While the FBI didn’t go into much detail about the investigation, it was clear from media reports that the scope extended far beyond the Vistana. “We had no idea how far-reaching it was,” says Murray. There were more surprises ahead.

In August 2011, a Clark County grand jury indicted Quon on multiple felony charges, including first-degree arson and insurance fraud.

According to prosecutors, Quon, 51, had taken some sleeping pills, drank a Four Loko, and set her house on fire in an attempt to kill herself. She wanted to take her life, they argued, to avoid the embarrassment of being arrested in the FBI investigation. They further argued that she was trying to do so in a way that would pay out a hefty insurance policy to her two adult daughters, whom she supported financially.

The prosecutor’s case included extensive testimony from Robert Justice, a 45-year-old mechanic and occasional drinking buddy of Quon’s boyfriend, Ron Webb. Justice told the grand jury that weeks before the fire, Webb had tried to hire him to buy the couple a lethal amount of the so-called date-rape drug GHB. According to Justice, Webb wanted the GHB because he thought it wouldn’t turn up in an autopsy. Justice told Webb there were better ways to kill yourself without arousing suspicion. He suggested eating some sleeping pills and then downing a couple cans of Four Loko. Ron Webb is currently in jail, facing multiple charges including conspiracy to commit murder. He has pled not guilty to all charges.

The police arrested Quon in Henderson, Nev., on the afternoon of Aug. 17. At the time of her arrest, she was carrying her passport and $7,000 in cash.

In subsequent court filings, her lawyers have denied that Quon set the fire and have rejected the prosecutor’s assertion that she wanted to kill herself for insurance money and to escape arrest. Her attorney, Thomas Pitaro, has told reporters the prosecutor’s case is based on an “Alice in Wonderland” theory.

Quon is free on $50,000 bail.

This story gets even more interesting
M. Kutuzov
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Re: Clarification needed 2012/02/12 12:40  
By the time any owner would get that to a court the election would be over. She might win by the time that term comes around again. They just copy all the owners with the lawyers letter, to say your are both a rule breaker, and an expense.

Remember the solictation at the door by a "friend" of the board member. They don't show up at the door themselves, owners would ask questions and want answers. The "trust me" and hand on the heart are part of the performance here.

After the board has done this a few times, they know who will and who will not attend too. Sticking in a proxy for somebody that admits they don't understand and won't be going, works like the straw buyer/director, used in this story, but no cost.

When is the proxy and quorum count announced? Watch that too. If it's not when the meeting is called to order, they could be adding a few, while the lawyer starts the meeting. This is not for quorum, but when the board is passing something contenious/expensive.

Mikey, there are no quarantees in the Act. "Proper" is suject to change without notice in condoland. You did read Alphonso's book? (We were agreeing there for a bit too.) The more a board is covering, the more tricks they will pull, to maintain the status quo. Your postings of this series here proves it is worth the effort.

If the owner opened the financial statements, they would see the meeting does not cost that. Even if the cost were doubled, as a second meeting would require. (Soon, if they collect enough proxies, they can stop renting the Legion).
Richard Forster
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