Thursday, July 30, 2020

Lawsuit charges Shahab Karmely and Troy Taylor for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

 On July 11, 2020, the Ivy Condo as part of the Riverfront Condos, filed a lawsuit vs.

  1. The Riverfront Master Association (managed by FSR, property manager Allan Yepez and Ivonne Herrera), 
  2. Shahab Karmely 
  3. SK Miami River, LLC
  4. Troy Taylor
  5. City Centre Yachts, LLC 

In summary charges against Troy Taylor and Shahab Karmely include:

  1. Engaging in self dealing
  2. Violating terms and provisions of the Master Convenant...deriving a profit 
  3. Unjustly deriving revenue/profits from the rental of Marina slips
  4. Engaging in various acts of self-dealing and other fraudulent conduct
The lawsuit does not charge Maria Elena Negrin or First Service Residential for now. 


Friday, July 17, 2020

Developer Shahab Karmely verbally attacks female board member

 



In a zoom board meeting of July 16, 2020, developer Shahab Karmely of SK Properties, attacks female board member C Michaels calling her "disturbed" and having "mental health issues".  

This was the third meeting within a year where the developer commandeered the meeting demanding that property manager Allan Yepez of FSR, end the meeting, thereby not permitting owners to ask questions. 

Click here to view the YouTube Video



Friday, May 29, 2020

MINT Condo elections a Fiasco

 The Mint Condo elections were fraught with problems: 

  • After owners conducted extensive research regarding the availability and reliability of e-voting, they reached the conclusions of its viability and requested the board to implement it. It was denied by the board of directors.
  • Management failed to accurately check records and had originally eliminated an owner from the ballot. Owner was 
  • Instructions for voting were unclear and cumbersome. 
    • Example: it was never made clear that owners could submit ballots on the day of the election
  • The Mint failed to include election for the representative to the Master Association per the bylaws. This appears to be an attempt for the current board member, Troy Taylor to remain on the board of the Master Association. This is also a clear sign that management (FSR) and the condo attorney (Siegfried Lerner) failed to guide the Mint condo in election procedures outlined in the bylaws.
  • According to the manager, there were insufficient votes to reach quorum.
  • At the annual meeting of May 28, 2020, Troy Taylor made a motion that he remain as President. Owners present demanded that board members select a new President, calling for a new leader to replace Troy Taylor.  With the pressure in the room, 3 of the board members agreed.
  • Owners, via the inspection of records process, discovered that the management failed to inspect the voting certificates. In this process it was discovered that the Treasurer, Jose Perez, is the spouse of an owner which is prohibited by an amendment of the bylaws.  Currently, Mr. Perez remains on the board. When owners inquired how can this be, the response was that the original bylaws take precedence. Outside condo attorneys stated this is not correct.
By several accounts the Mint association elections were invalid. Mint owners have the option to file charges via the DBPR within 60 days of the election, or file a lawsuit against the Mint Association. 

The management company for the Mint Association is FSR (First Service Residential). 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Endorsement of Mint Candidates for May 28, 2020 Elections



Dear Mint Owner,

As the Mint elections are quickly approaching on May 28, 2020; we are writing to strongly endorse the attached candidates running for Mint Board under the banner ‘Mint Owners for Board Integrity’. It’s time for a change!

  •  It is imperative Mint Owners become fully informed on the complex election procedures. Your vote is critical. We need 20% voter turnout to have a valid election, otherwise the current board will remain (as it has for the last 7+ years.)  It’s time for a change!
  •  The vote is a rapidly evolving situation, and by the time you receive this letter, the voting “rules” and even candidates may again have changed!  Please check our Facebook page “Mint Owners” daily.  We will post important information there.


  • It is expected that our Mint Board members serve with respect, integrity and transparency. However, in the past several years, Mint Owners have been raising concerns regarding questionable events and the lack of response and transparency by the Mint Board.  This pattern and these concerns have extended to the Master Association as well, which affects all three buildings. (The President of the Master is also the President at the Mint). Some of the alarming concerns have been noted on a blog http://www.riverfrontcondosmiami.com (with input from various owners.)
  • Recently a group of Mint Owners conducted thorough research regarding electronic voting to ensure a more reliable, efficient, convenient, and cost-effective voting process, especially considering that 70% of Mint owners reside overseas and we are in the midst of a Pandemic.  Unfortunately, even though 70 owners formally requested electronic voting, it was denied three times by the Mint board for the upcoming elections.
  • Thankfully, exceptionally well qualified Mint owners have stepped forward.  They are running together, not against each other - there are five open seats being elected for the Mint Board.  This team has committed to serve with ethics and transparency to serve all owners, not their self-interests and ensure greater community involvement. We will soon have our second "Meet the candidates” via Zoom and it will be a great opportunity to ask questions, hear from them directly and meet other Mint owners.
    • Juan  Admad
    • Robert Anderson
    • Greg Beebe
    • Zonia Caicedo
  • Lastly, and most importantly, for your vote to be valid, if your unit is owned by an LLC, a Corporation, a Partnership, or more than one (unmarried) adult, you must have a "voting certificate" on file. To ensure your vote is valid, please visit https://www.facebook.com/mintowners/ for further instructions or contact Mint Owners at mintowners@gmail.com.

  
Sincerely,
Riverfront Owners Action Group

Other helpful links:




Sunday, April 19, 2020

Legal Demand letter to Riverfront Master Association regarding Marina


To all owners of the Riverfront Condos of Miami, by clicking this link you can obtain a copy of the Demand letter by the Ivy Association addressed to the Riverfront Master Association regarding breach of contract and fiduciary duty by the following individuals:

Shahab Karmely, developer of KAR properties
Troy Taylor, President of the Master Association and the Mint Association
Maria Elena Negrin, Board member of the Master Association  & President of the Wind Association
Allan Yepez, Manager of the Riverfront Master Association and employee of First Service Residential

The letter was sent March 19, 2020.

Response was not received until May 31, 2020. This is against Florida statutes which require a response within 30 days. 


Our community is run by individuals who are in clear violation of our governing documents and have no regard for bylaws. Ironically the amendments regarding the marina were drafted with the input and blessing of Mr. Karmely and Mr. Taylor.


Our community is in need of change.  
Pursuing the legal route is one option but not the only option.
Owners will not tolerate this blatant abuse of power by these 4 individuals using our investment monies to serve their self interests. Owners are fighting back!

It is time for new leadership!

The Mint elections are May 28, 2020.  Mint owners, please visit www.facebook.com/mintowners/ for important election information.

The Wind elections are in December 2020.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Response to Mint Board email April 8, 2020

Dear Mint owners,
You would have received the below email blast April 8, 2020 from the Mint board. Sadly the letter deflects the specific issues and attempts to cast a negative light on owners wishing to exercise their right.

This Mint board has spent significant time sending lengthy emails (even on a Sunday) boasting about our beautiful building, but have never answered specific questions or issues that Mint owners have been asking for over a year. In their response they encourage us to ask Mint management. Yet that is what brought us here. Questions that owners have asked in the past and never received an answer.

To the MINT BOARD: 
Why not thoroughly answer all the questions raised in the "communication"?

Below see our rebuttal in blue.


We hope you are faring well during these trying times.  Unfortunately, it has come to the attention of the Board of Directors and the Mint’s Management Company that inaccurate and misleading communications have been distributed to many owners and residents within our condominium including fabricated and erroneous data. Through our open records request process these individuals are attempting to take selective pieces of our board meeting notes in an effort to create a false and misleading narrative.  [Minutes of Meeting are readily available through the FSR portal that all owners have access to. These Minutes were not obtained via the open records request. ]


As a board we vigorously debate our decisions  in an open forum in an effort to get to the best outcome for our community. [Mr. Taylor as Mint rep and President to the Master, where was this vigorous debate for the Master budget? We learned it never occurred when the budget was presented]. These communications contain allegations without the support of fully transparent and complete corroborating evidence and it seems they have been originated by a handful of disgruntled homeowners seeking primarily to create confusion and discord amongst our owners and residents during this difficult time. [We are a group of 600+ owners, which is clearly not "a handful".  In addition 50+ Mint owners sent an email to the Mint admin and Board requesting e-voting. 50 is not a handful.  The Mint Admin and Board knows this from a recent email that was sent to them on behalf of these owners where every unit owner email was listed.  To state a "handful" is misleading. Unit owners have the right to meet, assemble and talk freely in passing or in the elevator regarding our common property.  With growing concerns experienced by many homeowners, Mint owners have gathered to collectively share their concerns and take action.  As unit owners that collectively share a property, we have no need to create confusion and discord. On the contrary, our efforts aim to seek clarification and answers and change for the better to protect our investment].

While some may have received such communication(s), we would like to assure you that your private information is protected and that the Management Company does not disclose the email address or phone numbers of our owners or residents.  By law the only information that can be distributed is a roster of all owners, their mailing addresses and their unit identifications. [Owners themselves have voluntarily provided emails to volunteer organizers for the ease of sharing information.]

These communications also include a claim of financial irregularity by the board of directors.  Putting aside that the mere allegation of such financial irregularity is without merit and untrue (which may be sufficient to justify the bringing of a libel action by the board members against those that have made the accusation), the Mint’s financials are independently audited annually by an independent accounting firm and all processed payments are reviewed, approved and signed by at least two board members.  Moreover, the Mint’s financials have been a benchmark for fiscal stewardship across the many buildings composing the FirstService Residential portfolio.  We’ve maintained and upgraded the building, our reserves are in a healthy state ($2M+), and our monthly dues are in line with a building of our size and complexity.  We would also like to reiterate that despite the size or cost of the improvement/repair, we have never had a special assessment which is a major financial accomplishment. [This is an apparent attempt to deflect from the real issue--the decision of unusual expenditures outside of board meetings. On the surface the financials are in order.  While board members approve and sign payments, our concern is again collaboration and decisions made outside of an open board meeting. EXAMPLE: Why are we renting artwork where payments are sent to company where owners are business partners of President Troy Taylor? Why was this never disclosed in an open board meeting? Why was a $63K expenditure made outside of a board meeting? Why not purchase the artwork from the artist instead of renting?  These are valid questions. We await the board's thorough explanation.]



With respect to the claims involving the implementation of an electronic voting system, the board has unanimously agreed that moving to a more effective and secure voting system makes a lot of sense.  That said, the board has opted to be diligent and informed about this important potential change and prefers to refrain from rushing into the process.  As a reminder, The Mint was the victim of an attempted massive voter fraud campaign several years ago coordinated by some less-than-honest people.  They attempted to take over the board and to take control of our association’s $5M annual budget.  This is one of the main reasons why any changes to our voting system must be undertaken with the utmost caution and oversight to ensure the validity and integrity of the process.  Voter fraud is all too common among Miami condominium associations, especially in buildings that have solid financials like the Mint. [This is precisely why owners are seeking alternative solutions.  The fraud occurred in 2014. This is 2020. Significant advancements have been made with regards to reliable voting systems] As a testament to the Board’s attention to the anticipated implementation of electronic voting, please see that attached response that was sent to a homeowner who inquired about implementing an electronic voting system.  It appears as if the individual to whom this communication was directed may not have been satisfied with the board’s response, which we add, was vetted by the association’s attorney. [this response is clearly another deflection of the real issue.  Furthermore, the Board's communication was not directed to one individual but many Mint owners who are still urging e-voting. We have also requested a one month postponement of the elections to address the board's concern for more time to implement e-voting although our research has shown it can be implemented in 2 weeks.  This was originally requested in March.  If we can not postpone the elections,  we have asked legal counsel to provide an explanation.]

With the foregoing in mind, the obvious question is why this small group [our group of 50 Mint owners is now 70+ owners] of individuals which appear to be disgruntled over decisions made by our board would send out such aggressive and misleading communications during this difficult time. [The answer to this question is the Board's failure to answer our questions at all. When unit owners have respectfully asked questions in communications and are repeatedly ignored, there is cause for concern].  It appears probable that these communications, which use unsubstantiated phrases like “irregularities” and “lack of transparency“ in lieu of facts, were designed to sow discord and create unfounded suspicion with regard to the board.  That said, it should be mentioned that all of the Mint’s Board meetings are properly noticed and open to all unit owners, [Notices are posted but not visible. Why not send email? Why not send an email about the Master budget increase of 36.2% before it is passed? Troy Taylor is our Mint rep and the President to the Master, why not inform owners of a significant increase beforehand? The Mint Board takes the time to send lengthy general emails about the aesthetics of the building but why not do the same when it comes to financials? ] and we rarely have more than 2-3 residents attend (and often none).  This board and management company have had a long history of effective stewardship [Many would disagree. Why are Mint owners physically blocked from entering the management office (before COVID-19) for simple admin questions? Why does an owner need permission from the person or guard at the reception? This is not stewardship. We understand making an appointment to discuss complex issues at length.  Why can't an owner walk in to make that appointment? Our neighbors at the Ivy can walk into their management office and be greeted with a smile and "How may I help you?"] of the Mint Condominium which may have gone unrecognized by some relatively new owners in the building who may not be well-informed regarding the operations of the building and could thus be mislead by fabricated and inaccurate information.

If there are any owners or residents that feel that they are being harassed or that their privacy is being invaded by the correspondence from these individuals, [Another deflection. Owners and renters feel more fear in trying to enter the management office; Owners will naturally turn to fellow owners to share concerns ] please contact the management office so that we can forward your complaint to our legal department and appropriate action can be taken.  We also invite you to contact the management office with any questions that you might have [Owners have asked and have not received answers. It is the Mint administration and Board that have repeatedly failed to answer questions for the past 6 years ] or if you should desire any clarification pertaining to this communication or any other communication that you receive from a third party pertaining to the affairs of the Mint Condominium.  It is our desire that all owners and residents have true and accurate information [Then why not answer the questions in the communication that Mint owners have been asking?] upon which to base their opinions regarding the operations of the Mint. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Fellow Mint Owners,
The above response by the Mint Board was anticipated. The response offers zero specific answers to questions, and only attacks owners for exercising their rights. The Mint Board of Directors has once again failed to demonstrate proper communication, and only heighten the lack of transparency. This is not a representation of our interests. They failed again to answer recurring questions. Questions that have lingered since 2014. 

It was this Mint Board that owners attempted to replace in 2014. Sadly voter fraud tainted the elections and the same members remained.  

We are continuing efforts to urge the Mint Board to postpone the elections and implement e-voting. Please contact us via email so you may help bolster our efforts for positive change.

ownersriverfrontcondos@gmail.com


Monday, March 30, 2020

Alarming Discoveries at Mint and Master Associations

Dear Riverfront Unit Owner,  [For SPANISH translation version click here]

These are very challenging times in the face of the most contagious pandemic in our lifetime. There are obvious implications with regards to physical and financial well- being. We hope that you and your family are safe during this crisis.

This letter is to speak to you as fellow investors at the Riverfront Condos. If the financial crisis of 2007-2008 was devastating, indicators suggest the fallout from coronavirus could be catastrophic on many levels. So how do we protect our investment?

We are a growing number of concerned unit owners gathered to address the leadership surrounding our financial investment at the Mint, Wind, Ivy and Master Associations.  To endure the impact and to minimize damage of COVID-19 requires leadership that is capable, transparent and ethical. Alarming events in past months have raised grave concerns about the current leadership, particularly at the Master and Mint Associations.

For example, Mint owners received an email on Sunday March 29 listing all the improvements made at the building without a special assessment or significant maintenance increase. For any person who has owned and lived in a condo for many years and closely follows the operations alongside the budget, knows this is not something to be proud of.  Quite the opposite. It is cause for great concern.

As investors, we must look beyond the superficial, beyond the glistening aesthetic appearance to understand the financial soundness.  The discovery of unapproved actions and expenditures and unnecessary maintenance increases has set off alarms.  For financial well-being or even survival as we enter turbulent times demands new leadership, a new board of directors with core ethical principles.

ALARMING DISCOVERIES AND QUESTIONS AT MASTER & MINT
Upon receiving a copy of the Master Association budget a number of red flags were raised. 
· Why is there a 56% increase in utilities when the average FPL increase is well under 10%?
· Why is there a more egregious 80% increase in water usage?
· Why did the Master board assign the only 2 marina boat slips to themselves (to the Mint President and the developer), without opening it up to owners of Association when we have 1500 unit owners?
· Why should the Mint President (Troy Taylor) only pay $1200 per year for the boat slip, when the average market value is $7-10k/month?
· Did you know the Mint & Master President Troy Taylor benefits from the Marina by earning $7-10k a month from sublicensing the slips to outside persons? Are you aware that sublicensing to non residents is against the bylaws of the Master?
· Why do we have to pay an increase of 36.2% for the Master Association while the Mint President pays ZERO increase for his marina boat slip, whose “rent” goes to the Master Association?
· Why did we pay over $200k for the Marina improvements but we are not earning any revenue from it to offset other costs? This could lower our maintenance!
· Why is there no expiration date on the marina lease with the Mint President? It is an evergreen contract, automatically renewed each year.
· Why have we been paying for the water and electricity for the yachts? Is this why our water bill is up 80%?
· Why are Master Association meetings only conducted weekdays during the day while most owners are at work?

MINT OWNERS: 

Artwork
You may have noticed the dark artwork in our light, airy lobby. Did you know we are “renting” the artwork from the artist in Atlanta for $5,300 a month? This is highly unusual.  Why rent when the artwork sells for $5k to $10k? In our findings we learned that Troy Taylor is part owner of an art gallery (ZuCot) in Atlanta that represents the artist Julio Mejia. Payments for the rent are sent to Art Premiere Inc., with the same address and phone as the gallery. There was also no Board meeting to discuss or vote on this $64k a year expenditure to inform owners.  Isn’t this against the bylaws? Payments have now totaled $85k to date. We appreciate fine art and d├ęcor but who is really benefiting? Where is the transparency?


Why replace the beautiful mirrors in lobby with this harsh artwork that is costly?
Where are those mirrors?

Casa Design 
The remodeling of our hallways  has commenced this month (March 2020) with  Casa Designs + Interiors Inc (an unlicensed contractor). Casa Design was awarded the $1.3 million project to remodel our hallways even though some Mint board members felt concerned with the appearance of the board having a personal preference with the contractor Casa Design and that they felt uncomfortable approving the job with Casa Design. Click here to learn more


So why did Casa Design get the job?


Structural Defects
So how is the Mint able to undertake so many projects totaling millions of dollars without a special assessment?  One possible answer: Money that was suppose to fix structural defects is now going to aesthetics like the hallway remodel. This is a natural concern as it involves structural soundness and safety. Click here to learn more.


Isn't this negligence? 

Why spend money on artwork 
and instead use funds towards fixing structural issues?


Missing Published Minutes of the Meeting
In 2019 there was more than one Board meeting held where Minutes (documentation) of what occurred have never been published. Why? Could it be that a board member came with a thick file and wanted to share some concerns about the Mint President Troy Taylor? The manager follows directions of the President and perhaps was instructed not to publish the Minutes. Owners are encouraged to demand the minutes be published and approved by the board as soon as possible in a board meeting. 


ALL OWNERS:
In November the Riverfront Master passed a $1.9 million budget which represented a  36.2% increase. The Mint & Wind associations never sent an email to their owners advising about this important meeting to discuss the significant $400k increase before it was passed. A notice may have been legally posted but it was not clearly visible. Two Mint owners attended as they learned about it from our neighbors at the Ivy. Only the Ivy management sent an email to their owners.

We believe in improvements for a better and stronger security, but the bulk of the increase for the security at the Master Association was for a new security team which has not proven to be any better than the previous team. We believe in improvements of our beautiful condominium, but not at unnecessary costs and risk of physical harm. We believe it is time to pare down exploding budgets and make board members accountable!  Therefore, we need a change for more transparency and revised ethical procedures to benefit all owners, not just select board members.
What is the fastest, best, and most cost effective way to change this? Through elections! The Mint elections are coming up in May.  The Wind elections are at the end of the year.  

WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP, A NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS!

PLEASE visit the website to learn important details:

On this website you will find official documents such as the association budget, the marina leases, and amendments.  Please visit this website regularly for updates.

Important Next Steps for MINT OWNERS:

1. WE NEED YOU. Please consider running for the board of directors! You do not need to live here to contribute. Board members can phone in. But our association needs new leadership!  You may run for the Mint Board or serve as representative to the Master Association or both. Candidate forms have been sent by the Mint Association. You should have received it in mail.

2. REQUEST ELECTRONIC VOTING.  It´s affordable and easy to add. More associations are switching to electronic voting. To implement this system, you must email the Mint Manager formally requesting that the Mint Association switch to electronic voting. This will help ensure unit owners abroad have a chance to vote in their investment instead of relying on paper ballots that take weeks to mail and risk arriving after elections. 

3. PLEASE VOTE. Even if you do not run for the board, the most important step is to VOTE in your upcoming elections in May.  We need over 100 votes! If not enough owners vote, the current board automatically remains.  YOUR VOTE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO REACH QUORUM.

4. STAY INFORMED. Please send your name, unit #, and contact phone number via email to ownersriverfrontcondos@gmail.com to be added to the distribution list for important updates.

Please do not hesitate to ask any questions via email! We understand this can be confusing.  A Mint owner (non-board member) will be more than happy to reply.

Please be safe during this pandemic.

Sincerely,
Concerned owners at the Riverfront Condos, Miami FL
ownersriverfrontcondos@gmail.com