ANALYSIS OF BILL SB 274
LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2022

SB 274 (SUMMARY): Condominium Fraud Investigation Pilot Program

(Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez)

ANALYSIS:

We should support the proposed bill SB 274 entitled “Condominium Fraud Investigation Pilot Program” filed by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez on September 21, 2021.

 
Under this bill, a pilot program is created to deal with investigations on condominium-related fraud and corruption in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. The programs mission is to deter, prevent and investigate fraud and corruption in condominium associations. This bill provides greater protection to owners in condominium the association, and specific methods, including the use of retired law enforcement officers who have expertise in fraud or corruption to foster a private/public partnership. The measures are of benefit to Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

This bill creates s.16.81 F.S., a pilot program entitled “Condominium Fraud Investigation Pilot Program” (“Program”) within the Department of Legal Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General (“Department”). The purpose of the Program is to investigate condominium-related fraud and corruption in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. As part of the Program, the creation of private/public partnership and establishes that the Department is authorized to and may contract private entities that employ retired law enforcement officers who have financial fraud expertise. The Department is also authorized to hire five law enforcement officers who have been certified by the Department of Law Enforcement (as defined in Chapter 943, F.S.) In addition, if the Department chooses not to contract with private entities, then the Department must hire three financial investigators, five investigators with previous law enforcement experience, and three clerical employees to staff the program, to ensure that the purpose of the the Program is fulfilled. (Section 1. Section 16.81(1), Florida Statutes)

The bill also authorizes a person to file a complaint with the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is required to review complaints and take special measures including forwarding of complaints to the proper agency. In the event that the complaint does not not contain allegations of fraud or corruption, the Ombudsman must forward the complaint to the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. (Section 1. Section 16.81(2), Florida Statutes.)

The Program grants the Department the power to subpoena, audit, and investigate in dealing with fraud and/or corruption, Department is allowed to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and compel the production of books, papers, or other records relevant to the investigation. If. after a careful review, the Department finds sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution, it must refer the case to the appropriate state attorney for prosecution. (Section 1. Section 16.81(3), Florida Statutes)

The Program must be funded annually from the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes Trust Fund, and funds specifically with funds specifically appropriated in the General Appropriations.

Further, the Program Program provides under 718.501, F.S. that the Program will be repealed on October 2, 2027, unless dictated otherwise by the Legislature.

Section 2. Subsection (1) of section 718.501, F.S., amends and provides the authority, duty and responsibility by the Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, including forwarding complaints relating to fraud or corruption to the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman. The bill also provides under s. 718.5012, F.S.; additional powers of the Ombudsman to include the ability to void or cancel condominium elections if election monitors or election statutes are violated; and provides an effective date.


CONDO REFORM CCFJ WISHLIST 2022

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