Theft Charges Against Three Shelton Condo Owners Investigating Management Company Delayed Until October

The arraignment for three Shelton condo owners accused of stealing financial documents from the property manager of their complex whom they are investigating for incompetence and double billing was again delayed this week in Superior Court.

Defendant Kathy Benedetto told CtCondoNews that her case as well as those of Joseph Miller, 79, a former board member, and Joan Pagliuco, 66, a travel agent, – all of Sunwood Condominiums, had their cases delayed until Oct. 19.

Bemedetto, 56, a hospital accountant, said their lawyer has sent a $205 check to the property manager in full payment for the copies of financial documents that were copied for them.

She also said that their lawyer provided the prosecutor with all the documents they had in an attempt to show that the property manager had lied when he told police that three stole original documents.

The arrests is a culmination of a dispute that went into high gear when a worker for a construction company Property Manager Gary Knauf hired fell off a 39-foot roof last winter and was killed. No building permit was obtained for the skylight replacement project and OSHA required safety harnesses were not worn by the workers. OSHA shut the job down at least two times.

More recently, the Connecticut Post said that the construction company has a troubled history.

“The remodeling company that employed a roofer who fell 39 feet to his death at the Sunwood Condominiums in February had been cited for numerous violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” said the Post article by Anne M. Amato. “The violations were discovered during three separate inspections by OSHA at two different locations where work was being done by JC Silva Remodeling Services LLC.”

“The first inspection was done on Feb. 14, the same day Francisco Amaral, 46, fell to his death while working on a roof at 344 Jean Court, one of the units at the condominium complex. OSHA was called to the scene by Shelton police, said John Donnelly, Jr., OSHA compliance officer.

OSHA found that employees, like Amaral — who were installing skylights on a steep roof — were exposed to fall hazards of up to 40 feet and were not provided with fall protection.

Knauf and one of his assistants, last June filed larceny claims against Miller, Benedetto, 56,and Pagliuco.

Knauf said the three came to his office on June 29 after they had demanded access to hundreds of pages of financial documents.

He said “we treated them cordially…we are a full believer in transparency.”

Knauf said his staff made copies of the documents they wanted, and when the secretary who provided them the copies went into Knauf’s office, the three left taking not only 400 pages of copies but 50 pages of original documents.

He said the three knew that they had to pay $60 an hour for researching the requested documents, plus 5 cents a copy. While a final tally of the costs were not presented, Knauf said the three knew they had to pay to take the papers.

Asked why he simply did not send them an invoice instead of calling the police, Knauf indicated it was time for payback.

“They have been persecuting us for three years, they had the opportunity to do the right thing,” Knauf said. “They didn’t offer to give us a check.”

Asked how he knew the three took original documents also, Knauf said they had to because the documents were missing after the three left. He conceded that no one saw the three take the documents, which he claimed had been left on a counter.

The three arrested deny stealing the documents and said they did not take the originals. They said they assumed since everyone left the office they would be sent a bill for the documents. They had brought a check with them to pay, but said they were not told what the amount they were owed.

“I just can’t believe he stooped to this level to hide something,” Pagliuco said. “The documents weren’t his. They belong to us and the association.”

Benedetto said they later found out the copying charge was less than $16. However, the research charge to find the documents was probably $190.

“This is the most outrageous allegation possible,” said Brian Harte, President and Chairman of the Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition referring to the arrests.  “This well educated group came to seek guidance from the CCOC in response to documented circumvention by the management company of legal orders and well researched probability of mismanagement of funds.”

“This team was trying to find the truth.  They requested documents that were no different than a private homeowner being able to look at their own checkbook.  The CCOC is concerned with the police department’s and prosecutor’s office judgement in this case in issuing the arrest warrants.  There are specific condo laws that give these rights to owners and the association and management company should be well aware of that.”

“There is no doubt that this is just the beginning of a much larger story,” Harte said.

The three – along with at least one other condo owner – have spent months investigating whether County Management double billed the complex and its role in building projects where required building permits were not sought prior to the work. They are also investigating OSHA violations by the workers hired by the manager.


2 Responses to Theft Charges Against Three Shelton Condo Owners Investigating Management Company Delayed Until October

  1. Sandi Martinik says:

    What unit owners may go through for documents. You are either ignored or told to pay for the documents.

    Here at Glen Oaks Condominiums in Newington, CT, this request was not ignored as other requests have been. The group did deliver to the office their request and the group made sure the office signe the request to have official signature that the office received the request, because again it appears too many times requests are sent to the office via email or by phone and totally ignored.

    The group did receive a response by the board and was told that the financials would cost up to an estimated $300 ($1 a page).

    To add, there was never a resolution created for the costs; however, there was a vote from the board to charge the $1 a page in the year of 2011 or 2012?

    The group knowing what kind of software and technology we have; they went to a board meeting and requested the information be transmitted by email because the documents can be exported to an application called Excel and then send electronically.

    So, when the group presented themselves to the board in a meeting regarding the transmittal; the board said okay but just wanted to give the group the option to pay if they wanted to. Well, the group never was given the option to get it electronically. It took going to a face to face board meeting for the group to get a reasonable accommodation. Why would the group want to pay $ with the economy the way it is and we are working towards a GO GREEN environment – a paperless environment. INCREDIBLE BOARD!

    I hope we use the models of our sister states to help propose more bills which provides the rights of unit owners more and more today. In CT, we can vote for budgets and effective October 1, 2012, Property Managers need to register with Consumer Protection, become a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) by taking exams and to have a state and national background check.

    So good luck Shelton; personally I am on your side. Where have all the ethics gone; it appears that property managers need to go back to M 100 and relearn Module 4 on Ethics. Sad and discouraging to even say that. Happy Condo Living!!! It is worth the Stand Up and Voice!!! Time and Patience!!!

  2. margaret says:

    Nothing will be done for these owners. The management companies will always rule because of the Lawyers they have in their pockets!
    CCOC is alsdo afraid to make waves in our defense!!
    Codo ownership=screwed!

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