Collier County property management owners disappear, millions at stake

A Naples property management company that oversees more than two dozen communities in Collier County is closed, and its owners have apparently left the country.

In the meantime, the associations have filed a restraining order and are trying to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars entrusted to the company.

A civil lawsuit for more than $100,000 filed by the Commodore Club accuses Naples-based American Property Management Services LLC of financial wrongdoing that wreaked havoc on the club and its condo association.

The company’s website states that APMS is a full-service property management company, managing condominiums, homeowners associations, and commercial properties in Florida. It opened in 2008.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 3, claims the wrongdoings were committed by Orlando Miserendino Ortiz and his wife, Lina Munoz Posada, acting as officials of APMS.

The couple’s office in Tamiami Trail East was locked and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office posted an eviction notice on the front door on Tuesday.

A temporary restraining order against APMS lists 26 Collier County condominium corporations as plaintiffs. He was filed Jan. 11 in Collier County Court Judge Lauren Brodie and seeks protection by freezing the association’s accounts at Wells Fargo Bank.

The association’s lawsuits could potentially include thousands of homeowners.

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The temporary restraining order said AMPS had opened bank accounts at Wells Fargo Bank “allegedly for the benefit of associations. However, the management company has established itself as the only authorized user of the accounts.”

The lawsuit said this effectively barred the associations from accessing or obtaining statements about their funds.

“Associations have good reason to believe and fear that the management company has already or may wrongly or unlawfully transfer funds or dissipate the financial assets of the association in the absence of an immediate court order protecting,” the restraining order reads.

The order to freeze the Wells Fargo accounts has been granted.

A matter of trust

“We entrusted them,” Laura Rigsby, president of the Royal Bay Villas Condo Association in south Naples. “All the stories are very similar.”

She said that based on the missing funds in her 90-unit community alone, approximately $600,000, there is a potential of up to $50 million in missing condo association funds in the 26 named associations. involved.

Some of the listed communities have 100 to 550 homes.

Rigsby said she was told in December something was wrong.

She said the association has been informed that initial contact has been made by a number of federal agencies, including the FBI, Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service and the US Postal Service.

The association’s reserve account has been emptied, she said. “There was $10 in there.”

Royal Bay Villas is investigating, she said, and is waiting for Wells Fargo to provide information about the frozen accounts.

Community funds were frozen, she said, until Ortiz and Posada could receive summonses, which were issued.

“We’re starting to piece it back together,” she said.

Rigsby filed a complaint with an investigator from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. That report is not yet available, the sheriff’s office said.

“All the stories are very similar,” she said of the other communities involved. “We had no reason to believe foul play. It came highly recommended to us.”

Surprised Realtor

A local real estate agent familiar with APMS was shocked that the situation had lasted as long as it seemed.

“I’m surprised it took so long,” Napoli’s James Hinson said. “Communities have no way to care, to pay vendors.”

Hinson, whose own community of Abaco Bay off Bayshore Drive in Naples was affected, said home sales could be hampered and potentially leave someone with a pending home sale with no home to move into.

“The new owner could be affected through no fault of his own,” he said, if community funds are blocked or non-existent and special assessments must be imposed on owners.

“Somebody tries to buy a house for their family and they get a mortgage, well, the lender doesn’t care,” Hinson said. “They are going to want to see that the money is there and that it is enough.”

These levels will be checked a few days before a sell closes, he said.

“If they see that those funds have drastically diminished, or … if there’s litigation involved, they won’t fund that,” Hinson said. “

Hinson said there is also the community aspect where the grass is still growing, the pool needs to be maintained, these properties are expected not to deteriorate.

“But how do you do that, whenever you have to have a management company to pay these vendors and you can’t?” He asked.

Condominium associations that entrust management companies give businesses wide latitude, via a signed agreement, to pay bills, raise funds, and perform other fiduciary roles. Funds raised include association fees paid by home and condo owners which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, usually paid quarterly.

Ortiz and Posada could not be reached for comment.

Phone calls to the company were interrupted by a Verizon network recording indicating that the called wireless client was unavailable “at this time” and emails to an address listed by the company bounced without be delivered.

Rigsby said clerks at the company’s now-closed office have told customers that Ortiz and Posada have been mostly out of the country since January 2021 due to the health of a family member in North America. South.

She hoped the locked office would reopen to collect items belonging to community members.

“They have unit keys from some members,” she said.

In the lawsuit, the Commodore Club Association, off Harbor Drive along Moorings Bay in Naples, claims APMS committed fraudulent education, embezzlement and breach of contract.

These actions have caused the community of the association “significant financial damage”.

Commodore’s complaint stated that the tasks agreed to by APMS included:

  • billing and collection of common expenses, special assessments, reserves, charges, rent and other payments from unit owners and other funds due to the association;
  • deposit the funds collected in accounts with one or more financial institutions;
  • payment of bills and fees;
  • ensure that all required insurance is taken out and maintained;
  • assist unit owners and the association in complying with all laws, statutes, ordinances and rules.

The lawsuit claims APMS breached its agreement with the association by failing to pay bills on time, including the association’s loyalty insurance policy.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the company violated state law by opening bank accounts in the name of the company rather than the association.

I have a break

Rigsby said his association got a break in one regard.

“We were lucky,” she said. “We have fiduciary insurance. I called our agent and asked ‘is our insurance paid?’ They said ‘yes’.”

Rigsby and Hinson said their respective communities have retained new property management companies.

The problem is, said Rigsby, how do you proceed when funds are blocked?

“We don’t have the money to pay our bills. We’re just stuck right now,” she said. “We applied for a line of credit.”

Rigsby said one of his biggest concerns was getting the issue out to other communities.

“We want people to know this happened,” she said. “Don’t assume everything is fine.”

Associations involved

The Collier County Courts issued a temporary restraining order against American Property Management Services LLC of Naples on behalf of these communities:

Abaco Bay Condominium Association

Amador Village Association

Bellagio Village Association

Boca Bay at the Bridgewater Bay Neighborhood Association

Bridgewater Bay Carriage House Association

Bridgewater Bay Garden House Association

Bridgewater Bay Homeowners Association

Caneel Bay Neighborhood Association in Bridgewater Bay

Coach Homes in Serrano Condominium Association

Coral Bay I at Bridgewater Bay Condominium Association

Coral Bay II at Bridgewater Bay Condominium Association

Coral Bay III at Bridgewater Bay Condominium Association

Cypress Gate Condominium Association

Fairway Towers Club, Building “D”

Mango Bay at Bridgewater Bay Condominium Association

Princeton Place at Wiggins Bay Condominium Association

Royal Bay Villas Condominium Association

Association of Serrano Masters

Shadowood Villas Condominium Association

St. Regis Club Association

Association Terrace VI At Cedar Hammock

Fountains Professional Park Condominium Association

Veranda III at Cedar Hammock Association

Veranda IV at Cedar Hammock Association

Veranda II at the Cedar Hammock Association

Yacht Harbor Cove Condominium Association

Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook), @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or [email protected]