By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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Although the association, on Bob Dugger's recommendation, had hired Glazer as its attorney, Glazer unexpectedly revealed to the board that he had a conflict of interest because he was representing Coletta in the loan deal. Board members okayed the arrangement anyway. Later the association had to pay Timberlake a $15,000 broker's fee, while Glazer pocketed $5000 in attorney fees, say several condo owners. The lawsuit claimed the board "improperly" committed Peppermill's homeowners to the loan. Thomas Shaffer puts it this way: "No lawyer in his right mind would have allowed us to sign that agreement."
In Hialeah the Imperial Terraces condominium board of directors terminated and then sued Dugger's Timberlake Group this past August. (The case was recently settled.) According to the lawsuit, the condo's board fired Timberlake because Dugger did not enforce condo rules, was late in paying bills, and could not provide an accounting of how he was spending the association's money. Upon being fired, the association alleged, Timberlake refused to return documents and disrupted board meetings.
The Duggers have been no less controversial in their hometown. In January of this year Timberlake Management won a contract to manage the 230-unit Kennedy House condominium in North Bay Village. The five-member board fired the association's previous property manager and attorney and replaced them with Timberlake and Glazer -- this despite the objections of condo owners who attended the January association meetings at which the changes took place.
Tim Morris, an owner who videotaped the meetings, believes the fix was in. He points out that three of the board members, including current association president Elida Temporini, are friendly with the Duggers and worked as volunteers for Bob Dugger's city commission campaign in 2002. (Temporini did not return phone calls seeking comment.) In the months since then, one of those board members has died and another was defeated in a recent election. Morris, who won a board seat as vice president, wants to fire Timberlake because, among other problems, the Duggers did not produce any financial statements during the first six months of their employment, despite their promise to do so. "As a result," Morris says, "we're facing a $5000 state fine."
According to promotional material used by Dugger, Timberlake administers more than 30 condominium associations in Miami-Dade County. In most of those arrangements Dugger has retained Hallandale attorney Eric Glazer to represent the interests of condo owners.
Glazer, who declined comment for this story, also regularly represents Al Coletta in his many real estate transactions. It was Glazer who acted on Coletta's behalf when he recently filed a lawsuit against North Bay Village. Coletta claims the city has diminished the value of his condominium penthouse by refusing to rezone the property for commercial use. On several occasions Glazer appeared before Dugger and his colleagues on the city commission, arguing Coletta's case for a zoning change. That argument was strongly supported by Dugger, who was unsuccessful in persuading the rest of the commission to side with Glazer and Coletta.
After citizen complaints that he had a conflict of interest regarding the Coletta zoning matter, Dugger sought an ethics ruling from the North Bay Village city attorney and the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. Both issued opinions in his favor. Dugger, however, had not revealed to either arbiter his professional ties to Glazer or his long-time relationship with Coletta, who has financially bailed out Dugger on several occasions.
In September the Florida House's Select Committee on Condominium Association Governance held a public hearing at Miami Coral Park High School to gather information in anticipation of rewriting the state's outdated condo laws. As committee chairman, State Rep. Julio Robaina (former mayor of South Miami) got an earful from disgruntled condo owners, but one thing stood out: Robaina says he heard more complaints about Bob and Rachel Dugger than any other property managers. "I've labeled these people the Condominium Mafia," Robaina says. "The stories are horrible. There is a total lack of accountability by the Duggers and others like them."
Robaina wants the legislature to enact a host of reforms, including mandatory criminal and financial background checks on individuals who apply for or renew their state-mandated licenses to manage community associations. A financial background check might pose problems for Bob and Rachel Dugger. Timberlake Group owes the IRS more than $260,000 in unpaid payroll taxes. This is in addition to roughly $100,000 in personal income taxes Bob Dugger owes the federal government. The Florida Department of Revenue has also filed 29 tax liens against Timberlake Management and Timberlake Group for not paying state taxes.
In addition to their tax debts, the Duggers have a long history of foreclosures against them. In 2001, for example, they lost a commercial building in this manner. Even their pal Coletta has foreclosed on personal properties they owned. "If you can't handle your own finances," says Robaina, "you shouldn't have the fiduciary responsibility of managing community associations."
Bob and Rachel Dugger declined comment for this story when they were approached at a recent North Bay Village civic meeting. Bob Dugger, however, did take the time to chastise New Times: "You're not interested in pursuing the truth. You're interested in printing lies on yellow paper."