What price “justice?” Russell Galbut strikes again! (And again, and again, and again…)

It took only $10,000 in campaign donations for Miami Beach developer Russell Galbut to persuade the Miami-Dade County Board of Rules and Appeals to rule in his favor.

How much did it cost him to buy convince a Miami-Dade County judge to do the exact same thing?

An August 4, 2016 article in the Florida Bulldog, Owners at South Beach’s Shelborne fight $30 million assessments, foreclosure, reported on a Miami-Dade civil court case alleging that Russell Galbut, along with relatives and business associates, broke Florida condominium association laws after stacking the board to push out all the “non-Galbut” unit owners of the condominium hotel through forced sales and foreclosures.

Five years ago on April 18, 2012, forty two unit owners fought back by filing a lawsuit against the Shelborne Ocean Beach Condominium Association, Inc. and fifteen other defendants including the association’s president Martin Wasserman, Shelborne Property Associates, LLC, of which Russell Galbut is a Manager, and “four shell companies Galbut controls,” as well as his cousins Keith Menin and Joan Brent.  (Huber, et al, vs. Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium Association, Inc., et al; Case No. 2012-015281-CA-01.)

At the time the lawsuit was filed in 2012, Galbut-owned companies owned 100 rooms and 57 commercial spaces, or “less than one sixth of the units,” according to defense attorney Ronald M. Rosengarten of Greenberg Traurig.  Since then, the Galbut group obtained 120 more units, which enabled them to achieve a majority on the board.

Florida Bulldog reported that in 2010, the hotel’s management was turned over to Keith Menin’s company, Menin Hotels, LLC, which then allowed the board to vote for a $15 million renovation “without obtaining approval from at least 75 percent of the unit owners as required by state law.”  Since the Galbut group owned only 46% of the units at the time (157 out of 341), the vote was apparently illegal.*  Nevertheless, they rammed the assessment through and stuck all the unit owners with the bill.

(*NOTEFlorida Statute 718.113(1)(b) specifically states, “There shall not be any material alteration of, or substantial addition to, the common elements of any condominium operated by a multicondominium association unless approved in the manner provided in the declaration of the affected condominium or condominiums as originally recorded or as amended under the procedures provided therein.  If a declaration as originally recorded or as amended under the procedures provided therein does not specify a procedure for approving such an alteration or addition, the approval of 75 percent of the total voting interests of each affected condominium is required.”  Despite the explicitness of the statute, in 2014 Judge Jennifer Bailey ruled that the law was “silent” on the issue of timing and approved a retroactive vote four years after the board had already assessed more than $30 million to the unit owners, thus setting a dangerous precedent for future condominium boards to do the same.)

After the first renovation, the Florida Bulldog reported, “Barely a year later, Galbut and his alleged surrogates signed an agreement with Wyndham Hotel Management allowing them to market 125 rooms and the common areas of the hotel under the Wyndham brand, the lawsuit states. The non-Galbut owned-rooms were not part of the deal.”

In order to meet the standards of the Wyndham organization, the board voted on another $28.7 million renovation project, again without the required consent, and proceeded to close the building for over a year.  The unit owners were handed the bill via special assessment, lost all potential rental income, and were barred from entering the property for over a year while the renovations took place, which included a gutting of the entire building.  Wyndham Hotel operated the Shelborne for about a year and a half but eventually pulled out.

At that point, many unit owners were forced to either sell their properties, which the Galbut companies were only too happy to buy at a discounted price.  One of the owners told the Florida Bulldog that Miami Beach hotel condominium units were selling for “$700,000 to $800,000 a room,” while the Galbuts were buying Shelborne units for only $150,000 to $250,000.  Considering that the alternative was foreclosure, many non-Galbut unit owners cut their losses and sold.  Forty two unit owners decided to sue and seek relief through the court system.

One of the plaintiffs provided me with the following synopsis of the events that led up to their complaint:

There are around 40 other stories within our group, more from others who sold early on (at a loss, or bare minimum profit) and didn’t join the group, more from others who paid and maintained their units but remain tight lipped because they’re also victims.

We went to Miami for the first time on a family vacation in early 2000.  My husband liked it.  The market was down.  We had money saved up to invest.

Not knowing how things worked in Miami, we dove in as innocent as innocent can be.  We are simple working class people.  It was the first time we invested in a hotel/condominium.  We didn’t know how it worked.  We didn’t know about board of directors, and didn’t know who they were.  We just knew a realtor we discovered online, met a few times as we shopped around for a hotel/condo unit to buy.  We settled on Shelborne based on the price and location.

We bought two units in the early 2000s for around $120,000 each (no mortgage on it).  We would never have purchased the units had we known we were going to be slapped with $98,468.66 in special assessments per unit.  We bought the units because it was going to be self sufficient from the rental income; thus, we didn’t have to worry about maintenance, repairs, and the affordable monthly association fees.  We were going to let our money sit in Miami, visit once or twice a year to enjoy the sun and the beach, and let the value appreciate until it was time to cash it out for our daughter’s college education.  It was supposed to be an easy peasy no brainer investment.

  • In the early 2000s we bought two units for around $120K each (no mortgage on it)
  • In 2009 we renovated one unit independently.
  • In 2010 we received the first notice for special assessment.  We paid for it.  We figured some work on the hotel will be nice.
  • In 2010 we renovated our second unit through the Shelborne hotel program.  A unit renovation package was sold to us by Evelyn Castro (now Keith Menin’s wife).  It was supposed to be done in a couple of months.  It took them close to a year to complete, giving us one reason after another on why there was a delay.  We can’t help but assume now that Evelyn Castro must have / should have known that the unit renovation under the Shelborne hotel program was sold for show while Menin/Galbut were tying the Wyndham deal.
  • In 2011 the second notice for special assessment came…they kept on coming until 2014.
  • In 2013 & 2014 the hotel was completely shut down.
  • In 2015 I had to renovate both units because they were trespassed, vandalized, and damaged from the hotel’s 2nd renovation.

Here are the Special Assessments PER UNIT.  See attached notices.  Please note when the letters were dated and when the payments were due.  A lot of money to come up with in such short notice!

  1.  August 2, 2010$6,446.00 (both our units paid in full) – Funds for the 1st hotel renovation.
  2.  September 14, 2011$12,800.00 (both units paid in full) – Funds for the 1st hotel renovation.
  3.  December 20, 2012$16,000.00 THIS IS WHEN I BECAME SUSPICIOUS
  4. June 20, 2013$16,422.66 The hotel was shut down in June 2013 for the 2nd hotel renovation (*Wyndham involvement).  Everything done from the 1st hotel renovation was torn apart.
  5.  October 10, 2013$19,200.00 The hotel was still closed.  We had no rental income, yet monthly maintenance fees were still required to be paid.
  6. April 24, 2014$14,800.00 We had no rental income, yet monthly maintenance fees were still required to be paid.
  7. August 21, 2014$12,800.00 The hotel was STILL closed!

TOTAL:  $98,468.66 SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS PER UNIT

When the hotel re-opened in November or December of 2014, we walked into our units in complete disarray.  Our units were not in working/rental condition.  We had to fix them up independently at our own expense.

Looking at the numbers, why would anyone want to shell out $98.5K + around $30-50K (from unit renovations) on a 290-310 square feet hotel/condo unit that cost around $120K?  We won’t even dare do that kind of renovation in our primary home!

Now our units are in foreclosure.  We are out of money and we can’t save ourselves anymore.

And to think we had our life savings sitting nicely in the bank in the early 2000s.  Sigh…

In almost any other part of the country, the courts would have immediately recognized that laws were broken and ruled for the plaintiffs.

But, this is South Florida, where corruption is the rule rather than the exception, and political “donations” can grease the wheels of justice.

The story gets only more sordid from there.

Last September, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted to place a referendum on the November 4, 2017 ballot, asking voters to approve a $393 million bond for the repairs of the existing courthouse and the construction of a new one.  This proposed bond would be repaid by increased property taxes.

As reported in Law360.com, “Eleventh Circuit Chief Judge Bertila Soto led a lineup of current and former judges, courthouse employees, attorneys and other members of the public who spoke of the need to move into a new courthouse, calling the current building an embarrassment and not the beacon it should be.”

On September 10, 2014, a political action committee, Building Blocks for Justice, was formed by Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz, a partner at the Holland & Knight law firm.  She proceeded to raise over $1.3 million in cash and in-kind donations in less than three months through November 30, 2014, including $1,000.00 from Chief Judge Bertila Soto.  As part of its campaign to convince voters to approve the referendum, this PAC launched a television ad featuring Judge Soto, who also appeared on WPBT2 on October 10, 2014 on behalf of the referendum.

Despite the money raised by the PAC, as well as the support of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the referendum failed by a 2-1 margin, as reported by the Miami Herald on election night.

Enter Russell Galbut.

The Florida Bulldog reported on January 13, 2017 that after the referendum lost, Galbut met with Chief Judge Bertila Soto and Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey, to present his company’s (Crescent Heights, Inc.) “preliminary plans to build a new civil courthouse on nearby property that’s partially owned by one of his companies.”

On December 19, 2016, Judge Bailey announced that she was removing herself from the Huber vs. Shelborne case, over which she was presiding.

“Bailey explained that two weeks before the court hearing, she was invited “out of the blue” to participate in a meeting with Galbut and Chief Judge Soto because she is the only local judge who is familiar with national courthouse standards and guidelines,” according to the article.

Oh, really?  Didn’t she think there just might be a conflict of interest before  she had a self-serving meeting with the defendant in a case that had been ongoing for over two and a half years?

Instead of simply recusing herself so the case could be reassigned randomly, Judge Bailey signed an Order Referring Case for Pretrial Rulings and Trial, to Judge Beatrice Butchko, Section 43 Complex Business Litigation, followed by a January 4, 2017 order transferring the case permanently, despite the fact that a trial had been scheduled for January 9 through February 24, 2017.

Interestingly, the Back-up Judge for Complex Business Litigation Cases happens to be … Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Well, isn’t that convenient?

A January 16, 2017 article in The Next Miami entitled Crescent Heights Wants To Build New Miami Dade Civil Courthouse,   reported:

Another company that counts Crescent Heights principal Russell Galbut as an investor has a case pending in the existing courthouse, and opposing counsel is arguing that the judge may be biased by the potential new courthouse.

On January 3, Galbut’s lawyer filed a motion in that case, confirming the courthouse negotiations. The motion states:

  • Crescent Heights, has been in communications with the Mayor’s Office, the Clerk of Court for Miami-Dade County, and members of the Dade Heritage Trust, for over a year to assist the County, offer a solution, for the overburdened civil courthouse and possibly develop an expanded courthouse project.

  • Mr. Galbut became involved in this endeavor mainly because Crescent Heights owns an interest in an adjoining piece of property across from the civil courthouse which could conceivably solve the county’s need for expanded space at the courthouse.

Florida Bulldog first reported on the possible new project. The website quotes a judge who states that the plans are “preliminary” but “gaining steam.”

That was the same January 13, 2017 Florida Bulldog article mentioned above which also reported that, like Judge Soto and Judge Bailey, Judge Beatrice Butchko “had actively campaigned to convince voters to approve a 2014 bond referendum to pay for a new $350 million courthouse.”

The article also noted, “In a Jan. 3 motion, Rosengarten admitted that Galbut has been communicating with Soto, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office, Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, members of the Dade Heritage Trust and retired judge Scott Silverman for more than a year about getting involved in a possible deal to develop an ‘expanded courthouse project.'”

A follow up Florida Bulldog article on February 1, 2017, Miami-Dade judge sent Shelborne Hotel case to judge with similar conflict,  reported “Within weeks, Butchko tossed out the entire case that Bailey had set for trial in early January … She dismissed key parts in early January, days before jury selection was to begin.  She tossed the rest the following week. She did so while brushing aside a plaintiffs’ request that she recuse herself from the case and for a change of venue.”

Realizing that there might not be an impartial judge in Miami-Dade County, on January 2, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Change of Venue and Reassignment, to which Russell Galbut filed a Response the next day admitting that he “has been communicating with Soto, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office, Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, members of the Dade Heritage Trust and retired judge Scott Silverman for more than a year about getting involved in a possible deal to develop an “expanded courthouse project,” according to the Florida Bulldog article.

In response on January 6, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a Motion to Disqualify the Trial Judge, which was heard and denied on the same day.

Furthermore, as Florida Bulldog revealed, on January 9, 2017 – the very same day the trial was scheduled to begin  – “Butchko quickly dismissed eight of 12 counts against the Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium Association and five companies owned by Galbut, his brother Abraham and other relatives.”

On January 20, 2017, Judge Butchko issued a Final Judgment in favor of the defendants.

On February 6, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Rehearing, which was denied by Judge Butchko on February 15, 2017.

On March 13, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to be heard before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

As incredulous as it sounds, in the nearly five years since the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, there have been only 24 five minute motion calendar hearings on the 2,620 docket items that have been filed.

Russell Galbut’s pet lackey, criminal lawyer Ron Lowy, gloated to the media that the plaintiffs are pursuing a “far-fetched” theory about Judge Butchko’s actions.  As the Florida Bulldog reported, Lowy publicly commented, “I don’t believe any judge in Miami-Dade is going to give up their view of justice and doing what’s right simply because [Galbut] may in the future submit a formal proposal which may result in the construction of a new courthouse.  The plaintiffs were simply unable to prove their case.”

However, Kevin Malek, attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Florida Bulldog that they “have little faith that they will get a fair shake as long as the case remains in Miami-Dade. Several of the unit owners … don’t believe any Miami-Dade judge can rule impartially on their case while Galbut is talking about building them a new home.”

No kidding!

This is not the first time Russell Galbut has been known to stack a board of directors of an organization to obtain a guaranteed vote.  It’s also not the first time he has sicced his trained pit bull, criminal attorney Ron Lowy on the victims of his client’s abuse.

In 2014, when I blogged about the FBI’s investigation of Galbut’s Plaza Health Network and the alleged theft of $130 million in federal funds, the next day Ronald Lowy posted a rambling comment attacking me and the FBI whistleblower, Stephen Beaujon, while gushing over Galbut’s “contributions, public service and love of this community.”  Lowy flat out denied that Russell Galbut had done anything wrong, and that Mr. Beaujon made “crazy allegations” after being denied a raise and a promotion.  He also claimed that “the Government sought and received all of the requested Plaza records more than a year ago and has not deemed it worthy of any indictment despite having more than sufficient time to investigate.”

Lowy also painted Russell Galbut as a philanthropist beyond reproach.  He wrote, “Russell Galbut, like his parents and grandparents, deserves accolades and recognition for his contributions, public service and love of this community. Russell has stood by this community during hard times when he risked his family’s savings rehabilitating dozens of Miami Beach buildings during the 80s when Miami Beach had a reputation as a delapidated [sic] place for poor elderly. As a matter of fact, The Plaza Health Network was expanded for the purpose of assuring that this community’s elderly could live out their years in five star nursing homes.”

Ronald Lowy had to eat his words seven months later when, as I also blogged, despite his protestations that “my ‘mud-raking innuendos’ about Hebrew Homes Health Network, Inc. d/b/a Plaza Health Network, it’s Chief Executive William Zubkoff, and past Chairman of the Board Russell Galbut were completely fabricated,” U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer announced in a press release that all three defendants “have agreed to pay $17 million to resolve allegations that Hebrew Homes violated the False Claims Act by improperly paying doctors for referrals of Medicare patients requiring skilled nursing care.  Hebrew Homes provided skilled nursing services at seven rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  This is the largest settlement of alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute paid by skilled nursing facilities in the United States.

And the whistleblower that Lowy disparaged?

Mr. Ferrer announced, “The settlement announced today resolves allegations made in a lawsuit filed by Stephen Beaujon, a former CFO of Hebrew Homes, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  Mr. Beaujon will receive $4,250,000.”

So much for Ron Lowy’s credibility.  Or, rather, the lack thereof.

In an amusing twist of irony, a year after Lowy defended the “honor” of the defendants, one of them turned the tables on Lowy and sued him, along with Russell Galbut, Plaza Health Network and its affiliated companies.

On April 5, 2016, the Florida Bulldog (again!) reported that William Zubkoff, the former CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Plaza Health Network, and his wife Joyce Galbut [formerly married to Russell Galbut’s cousin], the former CNO (Chief Nursing Officer), each filed a lawsuit against Russell Galbut, Ronald Lowy, Plaza Health Network, et al.  In nearly identical complaints, Zubkoff and Galbut allege Russell Galbut and Ronald Lowy have been “milking non-profit Plaza Health to benefit themselves at the expense of the their elderly residents” and ‘improperly and illegally’ diverting funds from Plaza Health while presiding over ‘dramatic cuts affecting the quality of nursing care and using not for profit finances for private interests.'”

You can read the complaints filed with the 11th Judicial Court in and for Miami-Dade County here and here.

Furthermore, the Florida Bulldog article reported, “Zubkoff and Joyce Galbut claim they fought to put a stop to the abuses and even notified federal authorities about what was happening. They also say they rejected Galbut and Lowy’s offers of ‘multi-year, 6-figure consulting agreements’ in exchange for their silence. Both said they were fired within weeks of rejecting those offers.”

Needless to say, Lowy vehemently denied the allegations, while the plaintiffs’ attorney, Jon Herskowitz stated, “They would not be coming forward with these allegations if there was not significant proof over the years of what we consider not only improper illegal actions but various objections and complaints raised by Joyce Galbut and William Zubkoff.”

Those lawsuits are still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Shelborne Hotel mess is far from over.  The last hope of the aggrieved plaintiffs rests in the hands of the five judges of the Third Judicial Circuit.

If the appearance of impropriety and possible judicial corruption aren’t disturbing enough, the interminable ordeal that the individual unit owners have been put through are devastating.  Several of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit have reached out to to me through VotersOpinion and Facebook, and implored me to tell their personal stories of the hell they have been through at the hands of the Russell Galbut and his minions.

Here are just a few of them:

We put a group of owners at the Shelborne together to try and defend our properties from being taken away from us for pennies by this group of degenerates who prey on those of us who are not wealthy.  My husband and myself are senior citizens.  We bought this rental apartment to have an income during our retirement.  As you can see this doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.  I have been bullied and terrified even to the point of having been targeted by Jay Rosen, who works for the Galbuts, for over a year in which I received intimidating anonymous e-mails trying to scare me to drop the lawsuit.  We actually subpoenaed Google and Microsoft to find out from where these e-mails where being sent!

In spite of our clearly winnable case, Judge Butchko dismissed it without even giving it a minute to be properly read.  It is clear she has an agenda, the new courthouse, and we are expendable.  We don’t know what to do, with foreclosures being rushed before the court of appeals rules.

Help us please!

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I’d like to show how the Galbuts continue to be ruthless business people, and need to let it be known that some (or all?) judges in the 11th Judicial Circuit In And For Miami-Dade County, Florida are corrupt and look out only for their best interest.  Specifically Judge Soto and Judge Butchko.

When our case was handed over to Judge Butchko, it took her about a week to basically kill our case so there was no more case to try in front of a jury.  ALL IN ABOUT A WEEK.  We have a complex case.  It was impossible for Judge Butchko to have read all the case documents and understand it all within about a week.  Judge Butchko made “blunders” during the hearings.  I don’t want to undermine Judge Butchko’s intelligence, but she would not have made such “blunders” had she TAKEN THE TIME to read our case documents and understand the whole situation BEFORE reversing Judge Bailey’s decisions.  I can’t help but conclude that Judge Butchko has an agenda to squash all of us…perhaps because of her interest in getting a new courthouse?

After the first mediator (John Freud) revealed on the 11th hour in March 2016 that he had previously dealt with Russell Galbut / Crescent Heights, he requested to be taken off the assignment.  We were then advised that retired Judge Scott Silverman will be our new mediator.  Retired Judge Silverman didn’t disclose to us that he knows Russell Galbut.  Another corrupt judge in my eyes because he was involved in Russell Galbut’s communications with Judge Soto to submit a proposal for a new courthouse.  Now, whilst I sense that the 11th Judicial Circuit In and For Miami-Dade County, Florida has been tainted by the Galbuts, I am afraid that the Third District Court of Appeal may also be corrupt since I’ve heard that Judge Silverman has ties with that court.

I see Russell Galbut as the “big bad wolf”, but take note of the Shelborne Property Associates LLC (SPA, LLC).  They are a group of investors who were buying up condos as we were getting special assessments.  SPA, LLC was buying up units so that they can get the majority share in the Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium Association, and so that they can get the majority votes they needed.  The unit owners who chose not to fight basically didn’t have the money to pay for the special assessments, so they had no choice but to sell, and sell cheap.  SPA, LLC is ANOTHER “big bad wolf” who’s out there to take advantage of us!

Wish us luck.  TIME is another big enemy right now.  I’ve been advised that Judge Butchko has denied a stay on our foreclosures (being handled separately from our main case), giving us 60 days to pay for the special assessments.  I am desperate, and have had it with all the bullying.  We need a miracle at this point of the game!

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Hello. I am a VICTIM of bullyism.

I’M BEGGING for you to HELP ME…PLEASE…for the sake of my family’s future.

I need your voice and power to communicate.

Judge BERTILA SOTO and Judge BEATRICE BUTCHKO of the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit In And For Miami-Dade County, Florida VIOLATED THE RULE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT / CODE OF ETHIC.

Judge BEATRICE BUTCHKO should have recused herself from our case because Chief Judge BERTILA SOTO held meetings with RUSSELL GALBUT, who has ties to our case with Shelborne, regarding building a new courthouse.

About 20 of us will soon lose our properties at the Shelborne South Beach in Miami Beach, FL because our building’s Board of Directors ABUSED THEIR POWER and looked out only for THEIR best interest and NOT OURS. They bullied their way into passing outlandish special assessments totaling close to $100K per unit in a period of around 4 years. And now it appears that the courthouse has been tainted with RUSSELL GALBUT’S influence.

All we ask is JUSTICE and our day in court and our moment in front of a jury trial. But the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit In And For Miami-Dade County, Florida DEPRIVED US OF THAT.

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I can’t believe this is happening in our country!

As we prepare to file for an emergency stay in the appeals court, I am hoping against hope that they’re not also influenced by the Galbuts.  I believe they want to sell the building and that’s most likely why they’re rushing through the foreclosures.  I’m assuming they’ll be the buyers at the auction, get over 90% ownership of the building, then do whatever they can to get the remaining owners out so that they can sell the building.

My head is spinning from the reality, can’t digest the news, I’m on the verge of a breakdown. This is how it all started for me…from a simple autonomous debt free investment to where we are now…leaving me in debt, and will need to file for bankruptcy. Can you imagine? My child’s future is ruined!  I just told her she’ll need to drop out of the school she’s been attending since she was 3 years old and go to a public school closer to home, she’ll need to stop all activities because we won’t be able to afford anymore, no more trips and vacation. Close to 20 years of hard earned money down the drain. UNBELIEVABLE. More so, I CAN’T BELIVE WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING AND SIMPLY HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THE SYSTEM IS CORRUPT…in America! Aside from hoping that the appeals court is not corrupt, I’m also hoping that the auction price starts at money “owed”. Can you imagine if the auction price is lower than the money “owed”? I’ll be left with less than nothing completely stripped off with my investments and my dignity.

I’m in my 40s, but there are other plaintiffs who are retired. Everything they’ve worked hard for down the drain.

There are other sad stories within our group. I believe there’s a single mom, the sole breadwinner for her family.  There are a few retirees who dipped into their retirement funds.  I know of one plaintiff who has since passed away.  He died fighting our case.  There are families who took out a 2nd mortgage on their primary homes. We all have our stories and situation. Most of us are regular working class people who unfortunately fell into this horrendous trap. I have been scrambling for funds to keep up with my situation. I for one paid for the first two special assessments when the 1st hotel renovation was done. I renovated MY UNITS during the 1st hotel renovation. Then they tore down the 1st hotel renovation, and then continued on asking for special assessments. Then they shut down the hotel, they ruined my units that were just renovated. I had to fix my units again. Any normal person sensed something was not right. I joined the case because it seemed the right way to go. I was wronged and believed justice will prevail.  IT WAS SUPPOSED TO.  IT SHOULD HAVE PREVAILED, RIGHT?  However I didn’t know until it was too late who we were dealing with. I didn’t know Galbut and his reputation until well into our case. I was so NAIVE, and feel so STUPID. And I feel even more stupid now that I’m in the process of LOSING all of the money put into this investment. That’s a lot for a simple person like me. UNBELIEVABLE. Our lives are ruined. Anyway, we have a COMPLEX CASE. So how could Judge Butchko have possibly read everything within ONE WEEK of taking over our case (weeks prior to our scheduled trial date) and throw out our case? She deprived us of our day in court.

I honestly feel like I’ve been cursed.  My last hope is that the appeal’s court will approve our request for a stay on the foreclosure. Otherwise, I will lose everything, including my dignity.

How about that for American greed?

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Needless to say, Russell Galbut is not a good person.  He is certainly not the altruistic savior of humanity that his sycophant Ronald Lowy would have you believe.

This is a story all about self-serving greed.

Greed that begets even more greed.

But even more than greed, this saga is all about Russell Galbut’s unquenchable thirst for power at the expense of anyone who dares to stand in his way.

With a bevy of high-powered lawyers at his beck and call, Russell Galbut has the resources and the means to successfully defend himself in court.

Even if he has to buy a few judges along the way.

Allegedly,  of course.

Stephanie

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4 Comments

  1. marc cooper says:

    Vivian de las Cuevas raised money from Galbut?

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      The article didn’t say, and I don’t believe so. However, you can review the reports and see all the donors here: http://www.voterfocus.com/ws/mdccand/candidate_pr.php?op=cv&e=13&c=miamidade&ca=1407&rellevel=3&committee=Y

      I look through a couple of them, and donations came from mostly lawyers. I didn’t click on all of them yet.

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  2. Dora Escobedo says:

    I am involved in the law suit with the Galbuts and frankly I am digusted at the obvious
    corruption. A few doors from the Shelborne a well known clothing designer purchased a hotel and the owners at the time were bought out at the market value and now he owns it entirely without homeowners. The problem is that when the market was not good they needed “homeowners to assist with the payment of the hotel and it seemed like a win-win situation but now that things are good and they have milked the homeowners and have a beautiful hotel now they don’t need us anymore–It’s their MO and have done this throuhgout Miami beach.
    Guess who are waiting like hungry wolves to buy the units at the auction–THE GALBUTS! THANK YOU Judge Soto, Butchko, Bailey and of course Silverman what a disgrace to your profession. Hopefully the appels court will be on the up and up although we have lost faith.

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