A HOME Owners Association executive accused of stealing millions from 6,5000 residents continues to pursue a neighborhood with a pending lawsuit.
The tyrannical members have been indicted and ousted from the Miami-Dade County Board of Directors, but current members fear the evidence of their crimes in court will ruin the entire system.
Thousands of residents of the Hammocks in West Kendall, Fla., are looking forward to a return after they were allegedly swindled out of millions by five HOA board members.
Former President Marglli Gallego, her husband Juan Antonio Gonzalez, former President Monica Ghilardi and two former board members Myriam Rogers and Yoledis Lopez have all been accused of plotting the plot.
A judge appointed David M. Gersten as bankruptcy trustee to investigate the allegations and track down funds used for services such as no-show maintenance work and excessive attorney fees to defend past members.
However, Gersten reportedly piles himself with a hefty bill, having billed $2.03 million in expenses after seven months in office Miami Herald reports.
“It’s like we’ve swapped one dictator for another,” said Carlos Villalobos, longtime resident and current board member.
“The Hammocks are a big cow to milk. Our concern is that the liquidator will eat up the money he hopes to recover. He was given a blank check with no deadline.”
Villalobos wants Barley’s spending to be reduced and calls for the board to be given more power in the investigation.
According to the board, at that rate, Gersten could end up charging more than $3.4 million a year, eating away at its $6 million annual budget.
“If the receivership continues at this rate, we have concerns about the sustainability of the HOA and the future of our property values in this working-class community,” said new Treasurer Marcoantonio Real.
But some residents believe the investment is worthwhile and are confident that Gersten will get his money back.
Longtime resident Don Kearns reminded the community that Gersten said the bulk of the expenses would be billed at the outset.
“You’re not going to wipe out seven years of a criminal enterprise in seven months,” Kearns said.
“Judge Butchko pulled out the hammocks in desperation, removed a panel that was terrorizing residents and installed a receiver without which this would be really ugly.
“No one is happy with high legal fees, but David Gersten deserves a chance to get our money back.”
“I’m the most experienced board member and there’s no way I could have figured out this fiasco on my own.”
“A lawyer in the small shop couldn’t do that either. Every time you turn around there’s another rabbit hole.”
Gallego and her crew allegedly stole the money by writing checks to non-existent businesses and pocketing the cash.
Early in the investigation, Gersten claimed to have uncovered more than $3.4 million in embezzled funds.
Gallego was charged with racketeering, money laundering and grand larceny and was first arrested in 2021 on charges that she stole $60,000.
Prosecutors said at the time they hired a private investigator to spy on neighborhood rivals.
Her and the other board members’ cases are pending.
The US Sun has reached out to the Hammocks HOA for comment.