Icon South Beach Residents Angry After Condo President Admits to Cashing $113,550 In Checks

Categories: Unreal Estate
Icon_South_Beach.jpg
Marc Averette via Creative Commons
The Icon South Beach, a luxury condo building now in turmoil
Florida history is full of condominium-related corruption, including board members receiving kickbacks for contracts or raiding condo coffers and then disappearing into the Everglades. That's why state statute bars condo board members and officers from receiving compensation unless explicitly outlined in the building's bylaws.

So it's not surprising that residents of the Icon at South Beach -- a luxurious glass tower located at 450 Alton Rd. -- freaked out after discovering earlier this month that condo board president John Stimmel had cashed more than $113,000 in checks from Icon's accounts.

Stimmel insists the cash went towards employee bonuses.

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The condo board called an emergency meeting for February 4, during which residents angrily demanded answers.

In emails prior to and on tapes recorded during the meeting, Stimmel -- who didn't return multiple calls from Riptide -- admitted to receiving and cashing 15 condo association checks worth $113,550 from 2005 to 2008. But he swore the money was promptly handed out in sealed envelopes to Icon employees as Christmas tips.

"The reason for the cash as opposed to a check was we were trying to avoid paying burdens," he said on the tape at the open meeting, which was recorded by residents and given to Riptide. "According to Continental [Group, the management company hired to run Icon], we would have had to pay 35 percent more for the tips" if given as checks, he explained.

"It seemed at the time that it was doable," he said of the practice.

When residents pointed out that the whole things sounded like tax fraud, Stimmel only dug his hole deeper. He admitted to depositing multiple, smaller checks rather than a single check for the $28,000 in yearly tips.

"Then I would have had to fill out a form which would have alerted the bank," he said. (The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 requires banks to report cash transactions of more than $10,000.)

In a statement, Continental confirms the condo association's accountant signed off on Stimmel using the checks. "There is nothing illegal about issuing cash bonuses."

The condo stopped that practice in 2009, the statement continues, and the board has hired another accountant to review the cash payouts.

Meanwhile, the February 4 meeting has left the condo in turmoil. A group called Icon Residents for Change is pushing for Stimmel's resignation.

"This building has a $5 million budget," says one resident who wished to remain anonymous, "and they are paying out tips in cash to avoid taxes? Give me a fucking break."

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.
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23 comments
jddixon8888
jddixon8888

The South Bay Club is getting ripped off right now by a group owners who are robbing the building for millions.  It's the same scenario.  

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

I hear that realtor Georgio Vecchi is on the board at the Icon also. Now it makes sense

hheathmiami
hheathmiami

So as all can see Mr agentmiami is one very very angry sad individual who has a very definite personal agenda against the board. Who would write such things on a public forum? Not a civilized gentleman. That's what Mr. Miller missed. I would assume after reading agentmiami's post's he's asking himself the same thing.  He allowed a deranged unstable individual access. I guess my comment below  hit the bully with the truth. Your on going comments and public debate are libelous. It's a great board  that works very hard. The majority of Icon residents support them 100% . As anyone who's ever been on a board knows it's a thankless job.  Good night and good luck on your dark journey. Post all u want, we @ the Icon have lives & are moving on. 

Washingtonone
Washingtonone

What a place! I hear Marv Albert - YESSS , also lives in the icon. You'd think with all the celebs they get a better board.

gettingby
gettingby

i thought rich people were smart

justareader
justareader

Agent - lol, I'm not sure who P. Diddy is?

justareader
justareader

What a story!   Sounds like Florida will have another prisoner or two.   Who lives in this building?

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

Bruce Camay John Stimmel stacking checks? IRS bruce Camay John Stimmel stacking checks? IRS Bruce Camay John Stimmel stacking checks? IRS

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

Bruce Camay John Stimmel Bruce Camay John Stimmel Miami Beach New York Miami Beach New York Miami New York Icon Icon Icon checks IRS checks IRS checks IRS John Stimmel fraud? Bruce Camay John Stimmel fraud? Bruce Camay John Stimeel fraud?

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

First of all, if there was nothing wrong with what Mr. Stimmel did, why was the practice of writing checks to himself stopped?

@hheathmiami is clearly Bruce Camay, Mr. Stimmel's "partner of 34 years," as Mr Stimmel has made it known to all Icon residents in writing.

As it is well known, Mr. Camay has bullied and intimidated employees and management alike for years, not to mention having threatened owners repeatedly that if they don't like it they "should move the f*** out," which led to at least one owner leaving the building.

Maybe Mr Camay should just shut the f*** up himself, and the Icon, let alone the world, would be a much better place.

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

First of all, if there was nothing wrong with what Mr. Stimmel did, why was the practice of writing checks to himself stopped?

@hheathmiami is clearly Bruce Camay, Mr. Stimmel's "partner of 34 years," as Mr Stimmel has made it known to all Icon residents in writing.

As it is well known, Mr. Camay has bullied and intimidated employees and management alike for years, not to mention threatening owners that if they don't like it they "should move the f*** out," which has led to at least one owner leaving the building.

Maybe Mr Camay should just shut the f*** up himself, and the Icon, let alone the world, would be a much better place.

icon-sofi
icon-sofi

I think people should keep to the facts of the article. Mr. Stimmel is President of the ICON and therefore has a fiscal and fiduciary responsibility to all unit owners. He obviously has not lived up to that part of his job. He has exposed the building to potential penalties from the IRS. The fact that other buildings do it (distribute cash tips) does not make it okay and is totally irrelevant. He obviously knew what he was doing in writing several checks in small amounts to avoid detection. If he is doing this to cheat the IRS, the unit owners should maybe think about what he is doing to cheat them.

internetinternet
internetinternet

The board should consider having checks over a certain amount ($1,000) require dual signatures of both the president and the board treasurer.  Often the management companies are involved in fraud along with the people they recommend (accountants, contractors, and cleaning crews).  Giving a management company the ability to write checks is a horrible mistake.  The management companies work by bid fixing and  kickbacks. 

The owners should also double check that any permits that were pulled reflect the true valuation and job scope of what the contracts the board signed.  You can get a contractor to write a bid up for a roof replacement for $100,000 and present that contract to the stupid owners of the condo.  Then the board can patch the roof for $10,000 and keep can pocket the $90,000 difference.  Nobody will know the difference.  Miami Beach inspectors will sign off on most any projects as long as you have a notice of commencement.  They only look at a project for less than a few seconds.  Very easy to slip things by them.  

The lower income condominiums are easy pickings for fraud.  Like taking candy from a baby. 


jgcamp99
jgcamp99

"This building has a $5 million budget," says one resident who wished to remain anonymous, "and they are paying out tips in cash to avoid taxes? Give me a fucking break."

Not only that but to avoid additional fees ? I'd prefer cash but reported properly to avoid additional fees, the more for me as an employee. Why pay additional fees the bank did virtually nothing to earn those fees.

Louis Wing
Louis Wing

I'm surprised that number is so low. He was just getting started I guess...

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

If John Stimmel, the ICON south beach president, doesn't have anything to hide then why did he state at a board meeting in 2011, "Over my dead body will there ever be more than three people on this board"???

John Stimmel Giorgio Vecchi Brian Logan Miami Icon South Beach John Stimmel Giorgio Vecchi Brian Logan Miami Icon South Beach John Stimmel Giorgio Vecchi Brian Logan Miami Icon South Beach

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

@hheathmiami John Stimmel John Stimmel New York President Icon Board South Breach Miami John Stimmel Miami Beach Icon president South Beach Bruce Camay New York Icon South Beach Florida Bruce Camay

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

@hheathmiami thank you for confirming that you are bruce camay hiding behind a pseudo identity. Just remember the truth is a valid defense, and you should be truthful and correctly state that there are more than 50 residents who questioned the actions of Mr. Stimmel, to the point the Board was forced to hire a forensic accountant. Unfortunately, you believe this is a personal attack when it's strictly business. I hope that Mr. Stimmel has hired a good criminal defense attorney

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

First of all, if there was nothing wrong with what Mr. Stimmel did, why was the practice of writing checks to himself stopped?

@hheathmiami is clearly Bruce Camay, Mr. Stimmel's "partner of 34 years," as Mr Stimmel has made it known to all Icon residents in writing.

As it is well known, Mr. Camay has bullied and intimidated employees and management alike for years, not to mention threatening owners that if they don't like it they "should move the f*** out," which has led to at least one owner leaving the building.

Maybe Mr Camay should just shut the f*** up himself, and the Icon, let alone the world, would be a much better place.

CallingForTheTruth
CallingForTheTruth

@agentmiami I hear that realtor Giorgio Vecchi is on the board at he Icon also. Now it all makes sense

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