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Condo crime

Judging by the flood of e-mails to my Inbox, I'm guessing a lot of folks are following the ongoing condo-corruption probe in Hallandale Beach. It's a story that a lot of people can relate to, even if they haven't been bilked for millions, at least in the sense of "what the heck is my condo board doing?"

Here is how it worked: a condo board president, a condo manager, a contractor and a fourth person purposely brought inflated bids to a board, got them approved, then had the contractor kick back some of the money. The contractor gave back at least $1.4 million, Hallandale Beach police Detective Eric Williams said.

But this board was messing with the wrong residents. Curious and concerned, they threw out the board in an election, cracked open the books and brought a lawsuit. They also went to the police, where the city's economic crimes unit (all of one detective -- Williams) spent 17 months putting the case together.

Now we have three arrests and one more expected. But how could this happen? Staff writer Donna Gehrke-White explains how in this great (if unsettling) explanation of the state's condo laws.

The former board president, 83-year-old Joseph Greenberg, has been charged in connection with the scheme. The two other men arrested so far -- property manager Robert Hittner, 59, and contractor Ira Silver, 62 -- are each charged with one count of organized fraud. A fourth arrest is expected, but police have not named that person yet.

Greenberg's girlfriend says he is innocent.

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