Questions? Florida (305) 755-9200 - Puerto Rico (787) 281-9200

02.07.2008
The tendrils of the subprime mortgage collapse are reaching into unlikely places, touching those who aren't recent investors, buyers or flippers. [more]
Friday February 01, 2008
Meltdown Hits Deep Impact Stage
South Florida Business Journal, February 1-7, 2008

 

Meltdown hits deep impact stage: Residents of 40-year-old condo find they aren't immune from subprime loan fallout
 
The tendrils of the subprime mortgage collapse are reaching into unlikely places, touching those who aren't recent investors, buyers or flippers.

Elba Rodriquez and Guy Meeker, residents of the Four Ambassadors condominium towers in downtown Miami, happen to own units in a building where monthly maintenance and utilities fees are going unpaid on empty units - including a large ballroom owned by the troubled Berman Group and hard money lender Money Asset Management Corp. (MAMC).

Because of the problem, residents like Rodriguez and Meeker are being charged a special assessment by the Four Ambassadors' condo association. The building is one of the city's older developments, originally constructed in 1968 with 747 units. Its units' monthly maintenance and utilities fees average hundreds of dollars per unit.

On Monday, Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson denied a request by the Four Ambassadors to hold a foreclosure sale on the ballroom. Wilson ruled Berman's workout takes precedence over the concerns of the condo association - at least for 60 more days.

Berman and MAMC are part of a troubled workout targeted by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Akerman Senterfitt attorney Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver, is trying to sort out all of Berman's projects and get approvals from 640 investors.

But, in the meantime, the Four Ambassadors has a $172,000 lien on the ballroom for unpaid fees of $18,645 a month. Unpaid fees lead to "bad debt" lines in the condo association's budget - which the association has to cover with special assessments on residents.

And they aren't happy with it.

"It's not fair. I don't like subsidizing other people's debts," said Meeker, who has lived in a one-bedroom unit for three years.

Rodriguez, 86, was less gracious. Living on a fixed retirement income, she said she puts off other purchases to pay her assessments.

"If they don't pay, they go!" she said, clapping her hands.

Investors end up with defaulted loans

The state alleges Berman and MAMC sold unregistered securities in the form of fractionalized interests in mortgages, operated as unregistered securities dealers, made misrepresentations to investors and misapplied investors' money by funding commercial mortgage loans. The companies received $192 million from investors, telling them they'd receive annual average returns between 12 percent and 14 percent. Those funds were then used to acquire commercial real estate, the OFR said, most of which are incomplete with defaulted mortgage loans.

Goldberg apologized for any pain caused by the workout period. He was only appointed receiver in early December to take over a workout process that had been under way for months. He said he's been meeting with groups of investors almost every weeknight.

"I am very sorry if people are being collaterally hurt by this, but I can assure you the creditors in receivership are also hurt, and are out tens of millions of dollars," Goldberg said. "Unfortunately, it's a mess that needs to be dealt with."

Richard Robles, attorney for the Four Ambassadors, said the hardship is different for residents there, especially ones like Rodriquez.

"When she talks about putting off expenses, she means groceries," Robles said. "That's a completely different thing than these investors are facing."

A recent $1.7 million special assessment at the Four Ambassadors only included a tiny portion for the ballroom's bad debt, with the rest being capital improvement and repair projects. But managers fear the bad debt could grow worse. The Four Ambassadors is already among the Miami developments with the most foreclosures - 30 current and about 30 more pending.

The monthly maintenance fee on a one-bedroom unit is $698. The recent special assessment hit those owners with an additional $2,286 spread over six months.

Goldberg said he's interested in selling properties like the ballroom for the right price.

"Anything is always for sale, on the right price and terms," he added. "But we're not letting anybody steal it here."

This article first appeared in South Floria Business Journal, February 1-7, 2008
 
 
UPDATE: On February 25, 2009, the Bankruptcy Court entered its order transferring the ballroom to the Four Ambassadors Association.
10.19.2005
Richard Robles, as Founder of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, hosted the Third Annual Instalation Dinner at the Trump Sonesta in Broward County, Florida. Attorney General Charlie Crist was the Keynote Speaker of the event.[more]

Saturday November 19, 2005

Robles Hosts Dinner with Attorney General Charlie Crist
Richard Robles, as Founder of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, hosted the Third Annual Instalation Dinner at the Trump Sonesta in Broward County, Florida.  Attorney General Charlie Crist was the Keynote Speaker of the event.  Also photographed is Frank Angones, Esquire, Hector Rivera, Esquire and Alan Bookman, President of The Florida Bar.  Hector Rivera was elected the new incoming president of the organization.


12.01.2004
Florida Bar News- BAR PRESIDENT Kelly Overstreet Johnson recently attended a Miami-Dade FAWL/South Florida local voluntary bar organizations breakfast to provide information and receive feedback on the efforts of the Bar’s Member Outreach Committee and discuss how the Bar can better serve minority voluntary bars and get more minority lawyers involved in the work of The Florida Bar. [more]

Wednesday December 01, 2004

Florida Bar Meeting Held with Voluntary Bar Presidents to Discuss Minority Involvement
Florida Bar News- BAR PRESIDENT Kelly Overstreet Johnson recently attended a Miami-Dade FAWL/South Florida local voluntary bar organizations breakfast to provide information and receive feedback on the efforts of the Bar’s Member Outreach Committee and discuss how the Bar can better serve minority voluntary bars and get more minority lawyers involved in the work of The Florida Bar. Standing from the left are Sandra Hernandez, Miami-Dade FAWL; Jay Kim, Asian Pacific American Bar of South Florida; Edith Osman, past Bar president; Johnson; Antonio Castro, Cuban American Bar; Rosana Hernandez, Miami-Dade FAWL; Kristy Johnson, Miami-Dade FAWL; Richard Robles, Puerto Rican Bar; and Patrick Vilar, Colombian American Bar Association. Sitting from the left are Ramón Abadin, Cuban American Bar; and Sharon Langer of The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
Also attending, but not pictured, were Board of Governors member Frank Angones and Deborah Magid of FAWL.


This article first appeared in Florida Bar News, December 1, 2004

Search
News & Notes

Connect with us
Social Media
twitter icon facebook icon