Former Lindsay Park co-op president sentenced for corruption
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 30, 2018 | 6101 views | 284 284 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The former board president of the Lindsay Park Housing Cooperative in Williamsburg was sentenced to a minimum of one to three years in prison last week for her involvement in a corruption scheme.

Cora Dix-Austin, who was first elected to lead the seven-building, Mitchell-Lama affordable housing complex in 2002, was accused of taking bribes from January 2011 to July 2015.

During that four-year span, Austin participated in a kickback scheme involving $500,000 of co-op money meant for services, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

In addition to her prison sentence, Austin was also ordered to pay $110,000 in restitution to the 2,702-unit co-op.

Last Wednesday morning in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court, the resident group Shareholders for the Betterment of Lindsay Park rallied in celebration of the outcome. Along with advocates, the shareholders spoke out about the practices Austin engaged in that ultimately hurt the housing co-op for 15 years.

In an interview, Gregory Louis, deputy program director at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A and an attorney representing the shareholders, said residents had been complaining about their co-op president to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for a decade-and-a-half, only to be ignored.

“The signs of all these problems were evident, and HPD ignored them,” Louis said. “HPD should feel ashamed.”

The list of grievances from residents run the gamut from lack of repairs to weakening the democracy at the co-op board.

In a January 23rd letter from Nelson Jaime, president of communications with the shareholders group, to Judge Chun, the Lindsay Park resident said maintenance fees have increased 75 percent during Austin’s 15-year reign as president.

According to Louis, in the 37 years prior to Austin’s leadership, the Mitchell-Lama co-op had only increased maintenance fees by $300. For an affordable housing development that Louis called a “bastion of diversity” in the neighborhood housing African-Americans, Latinos, Jewish and Eastern Europeans from nearby neighborhoods, the growing costs were alarming.

In the letter, Jaime also detailed how Austin cut off access to community rooms used by seniors for activities and children for tutoring. He accused Austin of retaliating against shareholders who opposed her by issuing “bogus by-law violations” and even initiating eviction proceedings.

The buildings themselves still face ongoing issues. Jaime said the roofs are in “horrible shape,” and 28 elevators are in such disrepair that residents are constantly trapped in them. The facades of all seven buildings are also in dangerous condition, he said.

The housing co-op now faces a $110 million debt, $70 million of which had been incurred during Austin’s presidency, Jaime wrote. Louis added that Austin applied for a state loan that could have added up to $60 million more to the debt total, but did not get it.

Lindsay Park also dealt with oil spills because the tanks were not maintained, which added remediation and tank replacement costs to the debt.

“I can go on and on about the sad state of affairs, but they all highlight the core reality: while Cora was receiving thousands in a kickback scheme, our cooperative was falling apartment,” Jaime said. “We are literally paying for her crimes through the increased maintenance.”

There have also been long-standing allegations that Austin “bought votes” for the co-op board presidency by giving away apartments to allies, Louis said. Rather than putting her “proxies” on a long waiting list, Austin bypassed the waiting list for the highly coveted affordable housing units, he said.

As a result, Louis said shareholders have run for the co-op board presidency and lost.

“They’ve run against the board knowing they would lose because the fix is in,” he said. “They won the in-person vote but lost to the proxies.”

Though the list of accusations is long, Austin was ultimately brought down for corruption. According to Louis, she made a deal with maintenance workers who usually go into people’s apartments and tell residents they needed to fix two or three things.

Instead, Louis said, the workers would make up to seven repairs to “pad the bill,” and charge the bill to the co-op. The vendor would then give a share to Austin.

According to court documents, Austin was caught when a police investigator used a confidential informant. The informant, the owner of a company that had contracts to provide services for Lindsay Park, gave money to Austin in exchange for an agreement that the company “continued to receive such contracts.”

The shareholders organization has been highlighting the “financial hot mess” and other issues at Lindsay Park for years, Louis said.

They sued the co-op to get records and documents about its management. They hosted town halls to inform residents of their shareholders’ rights. They organized writing campaigns to HPD to bring their issues to the agency’s attention.

Louis said the city agency has been “asleep at the wheel” the entire time. The only reason why Austin was locked up is because prosecutors, starting with former Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, listened to the shareholders and hosted meetings with them.

“The real core ask for the shareholders is ensure HPD stops being asleep at the wheel, stop being part of the problem and exercise enforcement,” he said. “If all that came of this is Cora Austin was arrested, this would be a waste of time.”

Louis demanded that HPD follow the district attorney’s lead, listen to residents and take their concerns seriously moving forward. Every other person involved in the scheme, including the management company and other vendors who participated, should be brought to justice, he said.

“If you take one elderly African-American woman and throw her in prison and think that’s a solution, it’s not,” he said. “They’re going to put pressure on HPD and the mayor, the city government, to make sure they don’t lose affordable housing because of corruption. If that does not happen, none of this matters.”

In a statement, Councilman Antonio Reynoso said the sentencing of Austin proves that the lack of democracy and transparency at Lindsay Park is a reality.

“Although we applaud the work done by both Thompson and Vance, we must continue fighting for democracy and transparency,” he said, “knowing that Cora’s criminal actions represent only a small link in a long chain of corruption that has occurred at Lindsay Park.”

A HPD spokesperson said the agency takes the oversight of its Mitchell-Lama portfolio seriously, and that it has been cooperating with the district attorney during the investigation.

“HPD is also actively working with the board of directors to secure a much-needed loan to address the physical needs and secure the financial integrity on this coop,” the spokesperson said.
Comments
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Ghozt
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February 18, 2018
Please check this website it has a lot of information regarding Privatization and Mitchell-lama. Its only 16 pages and explains the difference. so please check it out.

And how lucky that we live in affordable housing.

http://www.cu4ml.org/resource_docs/Guide_for_Saving_ML.pdf

Take Care.

Read more: Queens Ledger - Former Lindsay Park co op president sentenced for corruption

Perks Exhibit A
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February 18, 2018
YouTube videos of NYARM Gala mentioned (most) BOD attend with their partners, as guests of Zenith Properties, Inc.

If BOD did an excellent job year round, why not thank them with a nice dinner? But here is the problem

and it’s mostly with what Zenith Properties, Inc. probably did, to recoup the money spent inviting some LPHC BOD & their guest.

Jay & Vinnie paid for seven tables at this 2014 event, meant for

Building Managers. They reported the amount spent as a lose on Zenith’s taxes. Then requested an increase to their yearly fee, which included the money spent on this Gala; maybe.

No matter what transpired, in addition to this, Jay & Vinny stole from us.

Here’s the

New York Association Of Realty Managers NYARM 2014 Gala

NYARM 2014

Part 1

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LQiO7vafiBA

Part 2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RIoNNP4h2fo
LP 1
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February 18, 2018
Oh! No one on the board new this. HPD is not looking very good shareholders are starting to question why this board is still on. NOT GOOD HPD!
LP bkdgs
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February 17, 2018
I wander what the priest at most holy trinity would say. Cora , use to go to Church every Sunday and receive communion and was lying to the church too. She lied to everyone. She really needs to be away more then 1-3 years. The only thing she will be sorry for is getting caught.
Most Holy Trinity
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February 17, 2018
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
LP 2
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February 17, 2018
We have a Cora supporter lol!
Eyes Wide Open
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February 17, 2018
This is for anonymous- I’m a shareholder too, don’t try to shut me down by saying “we got this”... I gave my point of view! you all sound so ignorant and only listen to people that say what you want to hear...I’ll be voting for these buildings to go private.
anonymous
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February 17, 2018
Vote all you want as long as the liars and thieves are gone we are good.
Eyes wide Open
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2 Hours Ago
http://www.cu4ml.org/resource_docs/Guide_for_Saving_ML.pdf

Read up on Guide Lines
Naggi
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February 16, 2018
I’m just stating the obvious, these buildings will eventually go private... they don’t have, and have not had control for decades before this scandal and no real oversight... It’s common sense not wishful thinking. Especially with all this exposure and light on Lindsay Park... People that want to stay will have to get a mortgage... the rest will have to pay a higher rent to stay as renters. The inevitable will happen... I’ve seen this very same thing happen to other Mitchell-Lama buildings in Coney Island... it’s just a matter of time.
Ghozt
|
February 18, 2018
Please check this website it has a lot of information regarding Privatization and Mitchell-lama. Its only 16 pages and explains the difference. so please check it out.

And how lucky that we live in affordable housing.

http://www.cu4ml.org/resource_docs/Guide_for_Saving_ML.pdf

Take Care.
God Got Us
|
February 16, 2018
Naggi I guess you are one of the 1% that can afford your apt if it goes private. You are only thinking of yourself. You must have come from the land of LACK. Lack of Respest, Lack of Compassion for your neighbors. Not everyone can afford their apts if they go private and all the acres/commercial property that Lindsay Park has you and the rest of us will be Priced Out. So treaty think about what you are putting out there. All those who have committed these crimes will face their maker and all the others will to. what’s done in the dark will come to light , it’s just a matter of time, trust they are stewing.
LP 1
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February 17, 2018
Well said!
Naggi
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February 16, 2018
Wow, people are so worked up about all of this... everywhere I turn in my building it’s all I hear people talking about.

We do not own these apartments, we are just shareholders of a corporation... Lmao! People did wrong and they are all going to jail for it. Y’all need to all calm down and look at the real problems going on in this world like the Florida shooting at a high school where people lost their children. I agree with the person below that says these buildings need to go private.
Point missed
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February 16, 2018
Naggi, I guess you missed the point why shareholders are upset. Lack of fixing our buildings, increasing the maintenance and not seeing where they were spending the money. Always putting LP in debt. Asking for loans every year. Financials don't look right. etc.. A crime is a crime no matter if you are stealing or killing people.
anonymous
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February 17, 2018
What’s your problem about everyone talking, that’s a great thing people are finally tired of the liars and thieves. I say keep talking shareholders we need to mobilize ourselves and get the rest of the good for nothing board members off. Eyes wide open we got this!
Boris Santos
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February 14, 2018
Hey everyone. For those that don't know, I am CM Reynoso's Representative and I am directly responsible for responding to all Lindsay Park Shareholders. At the moment, our office is looking to meet with HPD and the new management (Metro) in order to have them respond to all LP Shareholders and residents. We will be demanding a town hall where no question is left unanswered. We will also be making the following demands of HPD and the New Management:

• Investigate the external waiting list (the list of people whom apply to live in LP and reside outside the complex) and reexamine the internal waiting list (the list of people whom live inside the complex and are asking for a transfer). – Management

• A change within LP’s Board of Directors must occur whether via new elections or some alternate way . Shareholders that have been convicted of crimes in connection to bribery or where LP would face financial consequences from such crimes should be banned from serving in the Board. – HPD & Management

• Changes to the proxy system need to occur. Currently, only one proxy is used for shareholders to vote for candidates that want to serve on the LP Board of Directors. The same proxy is also used to establish quorum at the annual shareholder meeting. The usage of one proxy to serve more than one purpose creates confusions and opportunities for candidates to lobby shareholders for votes during the annual meeting. – Election Services United & Management

• Formal procedures must be established for the Board and shareholders to review and approve of LP budgetary matters . – HPD

• Family members of individuals that have been convicted of bribery or other crimes pertaining to LP finances need to be investigated. These individuals are prone to receiving (or have received) benefits in connection with LP . – HPD

• Establish an enforcement mechanism in which we can verify that tenants or shareholders residing at LP are in fact the legal tenant or shareholder. – HPD & Management

• Allow shareholders to attend LP Board meetings at the very least as silent observers and make all financial documents available to the public via a centralized website. The website should also include other relevant information pertaining to LP (such as maintenance contact info, a profile on the management company, etc.) – HPD

• Reinstitute committees (maintenance, management, pool, etc.) and establish an unbiased, objective procedure in which shareholders could participate in them. – HPD

• Implement term-limits for LP Board of Directors. – HPD

Council Member Reynoso and I look forward to holding the City accountable to the corruption that has long plagued LP. With that being said, we'd like to thank SBLP for consistently ringing the alarm when it comes to the lack of transparency and democracy within LP. We look forward to working with all groups that are interested in further democratizing LP. Should you have any questions regarding the occurrences at LP or anything else, please feel free to contact me at 718-963-3141 or via email at bsantos@council.nyc.gov.

Thank you!
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February 14, 2018
Thank you! Councilman Reynoso and Boris Santos for representing our community with such respect and true leadership. We are greatful for the amount of help you’ve given to the shareholders of Lindsay Park. We have definitely been in a tramendous amount of stress with this outrageous situation and we are only looking to be given the opportunity to to be given a new board that we can say are working for the betterment of Lindsay. This board has shown us that they don’t have our best interest at heart. Thank you for this message it gives us hope that we are not alone. Again thank you I am very greatful.
LP7
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February 15, 2018
This is great news thank you Mr. Santos and Council Member Reynoso we definitely need a new board that’s the only way we can begin to work together to insure we are not being held back from moving Lindsay Park forward for a better future. We want HPD to understand that without trust and transparency we can not move forward and we need a board that will stand by the shareholders and secure that we get everything done without lies and intimidation. You are definitely right that we need the management office to make sure ever apartment is checked out and for the people who are coming in meet the guidelines. Thank you
LP 3
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February 15, 2018
Great news things seem to be moving forward and hopefully HPD will listen to the shareholders we need to clean up this mess we call the board.
thetimeisnow
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February 15, 2018
Thank you Antonio Reynoso and team for sticking by the Shareholders and fighting with us. While we have watched other elected officials come in handing out their bottomless testimonials about how great Cora and the Board is in exchange for a vote. Then they attend our annual meetings while we scream at the top of our lungs to an empty set of individuals pretending to represent us, you stood by us 110%. It’s remarkable to hear folks on the board tell us “they didnt know what was going on.” “Cora will only serve a couple of months,” “she wasn't by herself.” They same people whoncould have done soemthing about it. Then recieve a memo telling us they take corruption seriously. Its a slap in the face. All of this after the fact while there is proof of money taken under the table and all parties can be identified. Still all parties who can identify have not been called back by the DA. Its disheartening to understand how uneducated they really think the shareholders really are. Those who stopped caring will leave but those still here who care need to stand up for themselves. Thank You Councilmen for your encouragement to keep fighting.
Bldg 3
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February 15, 2018
Thank you Boris Santos and Antonio Reynoso. I thought this was going to be a losing battle and now the true facts are out. That board treats the shareholders like we are a bunch of stupid individuals. We need those board members that were at her sentencing on 1/24/18 to step out of the board and move out. Those board members that are in by proxy votes should be removed as they have been in there for decades getting free handouts and favors. I hope allot of shareholders show up to the sentencing of Jay Silverberg, Vinay Vohre and Marvin Daniels on 4/11/2018.
BLD 4 SHAREHOLDER
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February 15, 2018
Thank you CM Reynoso, and everyone else in your office for making this possible. We need answers.
LP 1
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February 15, 2018
I am so pleased to hear this we know we have an elected official that truly cares about this community and does not take this type of behavior lightly. We need these board members off. Thank you!
Bldg 3
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February 15, 2018
This pass year on candidates night I went to bldg. 4 to hear the candidates speak. As I left Cora was in my Bldg 3 collecting the Proxy she had already stepped down as president of the board so why was she in my building collecting the proxy's I told someone in my building and the person ran out. By the time I left that disrespectful candidates night meeting and went back home Cora and Virginia were gone. This is how she determines who will be on the board.
Eyes wide open
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February 16, 2018
I would like to say that I and many others that have lived here for many years are very concerned about who will be on this board next. It seems to me that no one feels comfortable with the way things have been going for decades. I would like to see these buildings go private. I have already talked to politicians and other higher officials on this matter. The people here have spoken and it is obvious that the corruption has been going on for decades, now and before this recent terrible turn of events. We need to find real solutions. Thank God that the people are speaking out with the truth and are not afraid to take this to the last consequences. I will do all I can to help make these changes. I don’t see things here getting any better because you simply change a board like you would chess pieces. We need real change and I will do all I can to help these people. I would like to see these 7 buildings, my home become private. Enough is enough!
BringThe#s
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February 14, 2018
Regarding that poor excuse of a Memo from Esquire Smiler.

The fact it reeks The BOD Members desire to be off “the hot seat”, is very telling. This BOD doesn’t want to face the following facts:

A) During your watch each of you where interested in having a title but not monitoring the business of this corporation, our Homes. Your Homes.

B) Perhaps the perks you were given; particle or full renovation of your apartment. Attending an all expense paid Gala ($2,300.00 per table) or an all experience paid vacation. Holding Bus excursion in which you made a profit. Or receiving expensive gifts. Having your unpaid Maintenance added to our Corporate “Uncollectable Accounts” Expenditure FIscal Year Ended “FYE” 06/30/2017, 2016

in of $5,585,390 Million of Arrears

(See page 7).

C) Giving a 100% control to a fame & fear monger, of our Homes financial future. That’s if you think $110 Million is small change (Challenge/BOD: Watch several episodes of Shark Tank, to get a clue of How Millionaires & Billionaires think, when it comes to spending their money.) Each of you are also responsible for dropping the ball.

You, BOD, do not feel you should not be subject to people’s anger.

You have to live with the truth. BOD Members are responsible for looking out for ALL Shareholders, not just yourself & Cora’s interest. Put on your adult undies & resign, yesterday! Give up your right to:

Your parking space, storage, and other privileges of living in LPHC & maybe then Shareholders will see you have remorse.

I said this to a neighbor the other night. It’s only my opinion. “The reason The BOD Members didn’t addressed this problem (Cora was arrested in December 13?, 2017 & incarcerated January 24, 2018, (THANK YOU GOD!) is because they were never in control from day one.”

They don’t know What must be done to try to inform & be transparent. They gave full control to a theif. I am not stating every BOD knew of what Cora, Jay, Vinny, Marvin & the painter were up to.

I am saying they had no backbone to stand up to a control monger & tell her there were 20 others interested in having their input in the future of our finances & buildings’ up keep. The bricks have been exposed to all weather for 54 years, for goodness sake! Same thing with the oil tanks.

Another Big example: The children’s play ground near Building #2 - It is a disaster waiting to happen, God forbid. So why wasn’t it repaired like Building 5? Beautiful playground with extra padding if a child falls, they’re not injured, severely.

You have eyes but do not see.

You have ears but do not hear.

Mouths that some of you have used to bully your neighbors.

Your “services” are no longer needed nor wanted.

Resign. Yesterday.

PS: To Mr. Smiler - Please stop covering for the BOD. You might have a “date” forthcoming. You are not only paid by 21 LPHC Shareholders...
BringThe#s
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February 14, 2018
I apologize for not triple checking for errors.

BOD feel they should not be subject to Shareholders’ anger.

Correction & apology re: WAP Page 7

We spent $12,138,232 leaving $761,768 not $765K.

I read this months ago... should have re-read.
anonymous
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February 14, 2018
The board is holding on by a thread you can bring your Lawyers you can even bring Trump and nothing you people can say will change our minds. We want a new board so you people can prance around this hold situation and it amounts to no trust equals no old board. You hear that HPD we deserve this after what the shareholders have indured with the creeps/ thieves. The board might think they can jump back on the bandwagon but it’s not that easy. What gives us shareholders the certainty that you people are truthful nothing because you people already proved your lawyelty to Cora at the sentencing. Stop fighting a loosing battle and get off as shareholders we demand justice and transparency and this board isn’t going to perform its duties the way we need. Hpd we are asking not to be part of the problem but the solution. The only way we are going to live in peace is with this entire board out. HELP!
Paying
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February 14, 2018
They need to say this so they can stay on. The big problem for them is a new board opening up a can of worms. That is what’s scaring them how does it feel Cora not to be in control. The abuse is no longer going to be tolerated we are going to restore this place and the board is going to step down with the strength of our father in heaven.
Ghozt
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February 14, 2018
Regarding the memorandum that was sent out by Scott M. Smiler, Esq. Lindsay Park Lawyer.

The phone number given is not from The D.A. REPEAT IS NOT FROM THE D.A.

This number 212-825-3502 is NYC HDC (NYC HOUSING DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION) Confidential Hotline

LOCATED:

100 WILLIAMS STREET, NY NY 10038

Confidential Hotline

Anyone wishing to make a report about corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, unethical conduct, misconduct or incompetence by an officer, employee, board member, or individual doing business with the New York City Housing Development Corporation, (HDC), or anyone who receives funding from HDC, should contact the Department of Investigation, Office of the Inspector General for HDC, (DOI), at (212) 825-3502 or (212) 825-5959 or at www.nyc.gov/doi to submit a secure email.

Anyone wishing to make a report, but is unsure if the matter falls under any of the categories cited above, and/or wishes to remain anonymous, should also contact DOI at the aforementioned telephone number or email address.

In addition, anyone wishing to make a report about matters pertaining to HDC internal controls or auditing matters may make a confidential, anonymous submission to the Corporation’s Audit Committee at (866) 703-9549 or hdcwhistleblower@nychdc.com

I GOT THIS FROM THE HDC WEBSITE.

THIS IS CALLED MISDIRECTION - WHEN YOU READ THE MEMO YOU ARE ASSUMING THAT THEY ARE ASKING YOU TO CALL THE D.A.'S NUMBER.

THE LAWYER SHOULD HAVE (BUT HE WON'T) ON THE MEMO THAT THIS IS A HDC NUMBER.

SO AGAIN WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR.

WE MUST START A PETITION.

I'M TYPING ONE OUT AND IT WILL SAY CORA'S EVICTION AND GET RID OF THE BOARD.

SO PLEASE JOIN ME AND THE REST OF THE SHAREHOLDERS TO START TO FIGHT BACK.

THANK YOU AND TAKE CARE.

PLEASE SPREAD THIS AROUND AND EXPLAIN IT TO YOUR NEIGHBORS, FRIENDS, AND FAMILY.

TAKE CARE WITH MUCH LOVE.

anonymous
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February 14, 2018
YET! But if they aren’t they should be investigated and if the board takes bribery and fraud seriously then they should’ve been supporting the shareholders and not Cora at her sentencing. They have never been for the shareholders this memo means nothing to me. I want them off so we can start rebuilding this place without being scared of bribery and fraud we can’t trust these people. Where were they when Cora was doing her dirt with the management office. We need people that are gonna speak up and not stand by while our homes are being run down. We need to put an end to the apartment scam. They need to investigate every single apartment. This is a joke and I ain’t buying it.