Homeowners association board members charged for running criminal enterprise

Those who pay a homeowners association fee might gripe that what they have to cough up each month is criminal — but some Florida residents were actually funding a criminal enterprise.

WTVJ reports police arrested five people linked to the Hammocks Home Owners Association Board for embezzling millions of dollars. Among those arrested was the board president, 52-year-old Monica Ghilardi, who was arrested with bond set at $575,000. She faces seven charges, including racketeering and grand theft.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rund announced, “The individuals taken into custody today transformed the homeowners association into a criminal enterprise intended to benefit certain board members, their relatives and their relatives’ businesses.”

So, what prompted the investigation? The HOA board tried jacking up monthly fees by about 400 percent.  

It should be noted this particular organization is among the largest HOA boards in the state of Florida, which represents roughly 40 communities — or over 6,500 units. When the HOA fee hike rolled out, residents tried taking them to court.

Meanwhile, the board’s lawyer argued they hadn’t raised fees in seven years, so they were “catching up.”

Others implicated in the scheme included the HOA’s former president and treasurer, 42-year-old Marglli Gallego, and her husband. She faces 18 counts and was held in lieu of $1.06 million bail, while her husband, Jose Gonzalez, was hit with four charges and is held in lieu of $630,000 bond.

The pair were accused of taking the HOA funds for their own use, but it was not reported how much money they took or how it was used. It was noted they also took over $2 million from Gonzalez’s five “shell businesses.”

Police say more people may be arrested in the future.