Police Remove Tenants Following City Motion To Appoint Receiver For Coral Gables Country Club

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]


Questions about a pocket item by Coral Gables City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos at the end of the April 12th City Commission meeting were answered today, as six Miami-Dade Police officers showed up at the Coral Gables Country Club and removed the tenants on behalf of a court appointed receiver.

Soler Ramos had brought up a last minute item asking that the Commission to authorize any necessary legal actions relating to the Coral Gables Country Club.

At 7:46PM that evening, the City of Coral Gables filed a motion at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court to request that the Court appoint a receiver and allow such receiver to take possession of the premises of the Country Club.

At around noon on April 13th, six Miami-Dade County Police units arrived at the Club and asked the tenants to vacate the premises and hand possession to the receiver.

City’s Statement

“To protect a valuable and historic city asset, the Coral Gables Country Club the city petitioned, and a Judge granted an emergency injunction appointing Joel H. Brown, Esq. as receiver on April 12. This helps insure a smooth transition of operations from the current operator, Coral Grand, LLC. Additionally, a receiver was necessary because the current operators have stated that they will remove many items that are part of this facility not only causing considerable damage to this historic building but delaying the re-start of operations. In fact, yesterday when Coral Grand management was asked to vacate the premises, they attempted to remove the computer server and other items in the presence of the receiver. The city is committed to working cooperatively with the receiver as he operates the club and safeguards the interests of all Coral Gables residents. It is important that Fitness Club members and entities and/or people that have scheduled events at the club this month should rest assured that the Coral Gables Country Club remains open and operational,” said City Manager Peter Iglesias.

Coral Gables Grand Files Motion

At 11:11PM on April 13th, Coral Gables Grand filed an emergency motion with the Court to dissolve the receivership, requesting an emergency hearing on April 14th.

Judge Recuses Herself

Just before 1:00PM on April 14th, Judge Maria de Jesus Santovenia who had been assigned the case, entered an order recusing herself. “The undersigned Circuit Court Judge hereby recuses herself from further consideration of this case. This case shall be reassigned to another section of the Circuit Civil Division in accordance with established procedures.” reads the Judge’s order.

Background

The lease extension negotiations between Coral Gables Grand and the City has been widely reported on. Gables Insider provided a detailed timeline in The Coral Gables Country Club: The Facts As We Know Them in October of 2021.

The lease is set to expire on April 30th, and Coral Gables Grand contractually has a 30 day period to vacate the premises. The Commission has decided that the Coral Gables Community Recreation Department will take over the Country Club’s management going forward.

The City had been in negotiations with Coral Gables Grand for purchase of furniture currently being used in the facility. Gables Insider has learned the City had hired an appraiser to provide a value for the furnishings. However, Coral Gables Grand did not agree with said valuations. The sides were far apart.

Seemingly, conversations between the two reached a stalemate.

The City’s Motion

In its filing, the City argues that “left with no alternative, the City seeks the entry of an Order to appoint a receiver or to enjoin its Tenant in an effort to protect the historical Coral Gables Country Club, a property stewarded by the City for the benefit of its citizens.”

Naming Coral Gables Grand’s principals, the City states that: “Just a few months ago, the City learned that the Defendants—through their managers…have been defrauding the City. The Di Donatos concealed from the City that they had established an alter ego corporation, Coral Gables Athletic Club, LP (the “Sub-Tenant”), to sublet and manage the Fitness Center. Per the Lease (defined supra), the City must authorize all subleases and must be informed of any management agreements between the Tenant and another entity. However, the Di Donatos never informed the City of the sublease or the management agreement. By hiding this information, the Di Donatos deprived the City of crucial data needed to calculate the percentage rent owed. The City presumes the Di Donato’s motive in establishing and concealing this Tenant-Sub-Tenant relationship was to obtain a windfall at the expense of the citizens of the City. Upon learning of this deception a few months ago, the City, on numerous occasions, requested from the Tenant the information necessary to conduct an audit to determine if the City is owed additional Percentage Rent, as defined in the Lease. To date, no such information has been provided, and instead, the Tenant has sought to hide behind language contained in a settlement document procured by Tenant under false pretenses. The Tenant’s last date of operations and end of the Extended Operating Period (lease term) is April 30, 2022. Thereafter, based on the statements of the Di Donatos, they intend to use the next 30 days (through May 30, 2022) to remove marble from columns, tear out speakers and other sound equipment, remove counters and other items deemed fixtures, and load everything up in a truck that is headed for Canada where Nick resides and runs other businesses.”

The City’s filing, prepared by outside counsels Anna Marie Gamez of Holland & Knight and Israel Reyes of The Reyes Law Firm, presents 46 items in a “factual background” before making its legal arguments and request from the court.

The City’s request from the Court is as follows: “(1) that the Court appoint a Receiver acceptable to the Court for the historical property and improvements, and the goods, chattels, fixtures, equipment and other items of personal and intangible property encumbered by the Lease and empower said Receiver, (i) to take possession of the historical Property and the entire Premises, and secure it pending final determination of this case, including taking such steps as may be necessary to enter into, receive, recover and take complete, entire and exclusive possession of the Property; (ii) to take such action as is reasonably necessary to maintain and secure the Property from theft, vandalism, deterioration, and other damage; (iii) to engage in the necessary daily maintenance to preserve and protect the Property and to secure the Property to prevent injury to persons coming thereon; (iv) to protect the Property from attachments for failure to pay debts or obligations when due; (v) to borrow money through issuance of Receiver’s Certificates necessary to pay bills and expenses necessary to perform his or her duties as Receiver; (vi) to collect all Gross Revenues from the operation and management of the Premises and Property; (vii) to exercise otherwise the duties of a Receiver as provided by law; (2) that the costs, expenses, and monies of the Receiver as provided by law be taxed as costs herein; (3) that the Court enter an injunction pendente lite enjoining Tenant from in any way interfering with the possession of the Property by the Court-appointed Receiver; and (4) that the Court grant such other and further relief as shall be appropriate.”

The Court Appointed Receiver

The court appointed receiver is Joel H. Brown, Esq. Brown is the former Chief Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, and is presently at Freidin Brown, P.A. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1971 and is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. The goal of the receiver is to ensure that current member’s services remain in place and uninterrupted.

Coral Gables Grand’s Motion

Coral Gables Grand’s attorney, David Winker, filed an emergency motion to dissolve the receivership at 11:11PM on April 13th. The motion begins with a quote by Karl Mark, “The theory of the Communists may be summed up in a single sentence: abolition of private property.”

It continues, “Undersigned counsel is going to be blunt- in almost thirty years of practice I have never
seen such a blatant attempt to misuse the Court as Plaintiff’s corrupt effort to steal Defendant’s private property. American citizens do not normally have to be worried about government officials obtaining secret orders in the middle of the night to seize their private property. But that is exactly what happened last night (April 12, 2022) at 7:46 pm, when Plaintiff was somehow able to get Judge Carlos Lopez, the Miami-Dade County Judge assigned to after-hours duty, to sign the ex parte Order attached as Exhibit A in the middle of the night (the ex parte Order does not appear on the docket). And this morning, in violation of Florida law and the due process constitutional protections in the U.S. and Florida constitutions, the City government of Coral Gables with the assistance of Miami-Dade police officers threw Defendants’ representatives off the property and seized Defendants’ private property (and even its bank accounts) without a hearing or even a chance to respond. This despite the fact that the parties
entered into a Settlement Agreement that gives possession of the premises to Defendants until April 30. Of course, none of this is legal. ‘Shocks the conscious’ is often misused, but here it is an understatement. And to add insult to injury, the Plaintiff misrepresented facts to the Court in an ex parte Motion filled with libelous untruths. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 9 of the Florida
Constitution both state: ‘No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.’ The ex parte temporary injunction appointing receiver must be dissolved because it violates the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, well-settled Florida case law, and Defendant’s core due process and property rights under the Florida and United States.”

Special Shade Commission Meeting

The Coral Gables City Commission will hold a special “shade” meeting on Thursday, April 14th at 8:30AM to discuss the litigation with counsel. The meeting is not open to the public.

As the agenda reads, “Attorney-Client Executive/Shade session closed to the public for the purpose of discussing the litigation styled City of Coral Gables v. Coral Grand, LLC, et al ., Case No. 2022-006722-CA-01. This session may be attended by the following individuals: Mayor Vince Lago, Vice Mayor Michael Mena, Commissioner Jorge Fors, Jr ., Commissioner Rhonda Anderson, Commissioner Kirk Menendez, City Manager Peter Iglesias, City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos, Deputy City Attorney Cristina M. Suarez, Special Counsel Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz, Annie Gamez, Israel Reyes, and Christopher Reyes. A certified court reporter will be present to ensure that the session is fully transcribed, and the transcript will be made available to the public upon the conclusion of the above -styled litigation. At the conclusion of the attorney-client session, the public meeting will be reopened, and termination of the attorney-client session will be announced”

Share:

35 thoughts on “Police Remove Tenants Following City Motion To Appoint Receiver For Coral Gables Country Club

  1. I have an idea. Since Coral Gables is doing NOTHING to shut down the brothels on Eighth Street, let’s ask our misguided Commission to make the Country Club a brothel. Such consistency would increase the Club’s revenue.

    And let’s hire the manager of one of the brothels to advise the City how to run it.

  2. Well, well. Seems we have an imposter. The Nick Jones from April 15 at 8:48am is not me. No way I would side with the city on this or call out Mr. Baños for his comments.

  3. Loss of membership fees in CGCC is because of mis-management by City manager Peter Iglesias
    and City attorney Miriam Ramos.

  4. The last time the country club changed management, my family lost fees it paid for an “athletic membership”. Shortly afterward, I became aware of state regulations regarding “gyms” and attempted to get our money back. I was unable to do so.

    Anyone who has lost money this time, should check whether either the contracted management or the “subcontractor/s” fall under jurisdiction of the regulation. It would be a community service for Gables Insider to research that possibility.

    More information is available at https://www.fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources/Consumer-Rights-and-Responsibilities/Health-Studios

  5. Response to Nick Jones:

    Nobody pulls a stunt like this in the middle of the night if a) fairness/due process is a goal and 2) the City is confident it is in the right.

    The City should have sent a letter to the operators warning them not to remove certain items and then file the lawsuit, providing both sides the opportunity to be heard.

    Further, what planet have you been living on that you think judges are more honest than politicians in the other two branches of government? Read the Founders’ concerns about compromised judges.

    Finally, Why is this City paying for a bloated legal department which outsources its litigation?

  6. These articles are a good read. The comments are even better though. Here are a few of my favorites:

    From “Ramos Must Go” – “She first brought up this eviction in her usual sneeky way…” (grammar issues and misspelling in the original comment)

    Reality: Pocket items come up all the time, including Commissioner Menendez’s pocket item last year to extend the Burger Bob’s Lease despite the Tenant’s persistent and then-existing breach of the Lease. Most of the same commenters here now applauded the move and no one referred to is “sneaky”.

    From “Puppet Award” – “He [Peter Iglesias] wants to put the government into private enterprise. Namely, the hospitality industry. He wants to run the Coral Gables Country Club.”

    Reality: Does he want to put government into private enterprise or run the club? I am pretty sure those are mutually exclusive since he is a part of the government. Also, it is a country club, i.e., the hospitality industry. Hahaha, should we make it a clinic or ALF instead? Read Merrick’s vision for the Club.

    From “Javier Banos” – “All because they could not get their political contributor to take over the club.”

    Reality: Everyone knows who you are referring to when you say “political contributor”. But if memory serves, the political contributor is the one who backed away precisely because of the lies and vitriol we see from those who are perpetually uninformed. How many times did you ask that political contributor for his support during your campaign for commissioner? The sour grapes are real! LOL!!

    There are so many more silly comments like this. So much bad information. So many lies. Such a deep misunderstanding of the law. Now the judges are corrupt too? Get serious people.

  7. To get a sense of how City of CG has functioned through the years, look up Emil Gould v. City of Coral Gables. Similar situation of taking property from an individual. CCG always uses red herrings to justify their actions. Don’t be too quick to judge Di based on CCG filings.

  8. The judge on the case recusing herself is proof this was all fixed and she is as crooked as Miriam Santos and Peter Iglesias and should all be removed

  9. If you want further proof of the mismanagement in the City of Coral Gables, check out the North Gables tax bills. No one has ever been billed for the annual waste bill, now $900 a year. These are Millions of Dollars not collected.
    The City Manager must go!

  10. I regret to inform the below commenter that only ELECTED municipal officials can be recalled.

    Having said that, allow me to note that the unintended consequence is the City’s midnight assault on due process is that NOBODY in his right might will trust the Mayor and the Commission as to anything.

    Folks, it’s been clear for sometime that only a new commission and new Mayor will put an end to such dangerous nonsense, which includes a $3.5 million citizen spy camera system.

    Let’s get a petition drive going to throw all these six officials out!

  11. Maybe I’m misreading but – the current leaseholders do no seem like the good guys in this situation.

    Not that I think CG government is (in any way that matters) the good guys either; municipal corruption and self-dealing seem a given in CG.

  12. C G has no use for a taxpayer funded legal Dept. The commission or whoever is responsible needs to resolve this. I can imagine-but why is legal work given to outside lawyers charging exorbitant fee amounts?

  13. If the commissioners do not fire Peter Iglesias and Miriam Ramos by next Friday, April 22, 2022, a petition to recall the commissioners must be started.

  14. It is startling to find that Putin has time not only to invade Ukraine but also to attack private property in Coral Gables. Such a busy bee!

  15. Please gather all the facts before publishing an article, not just a one sided account of what happened from the Coral Gables City Manager, any responsible journalist, would fact check their information and get both sides of the story prior to publishing.

  16. Why am I not surprised that Israel Reyes is in the middle of this Stasi-like behavior by the city.

    This middle of the night stuff is one giant red flag that the City is not comfortable if due process were provided to the tenants.

  17. You are a bad guy, Mr. Bathroom. Birds of a feather truly do flock together. Time and time again you on the side of the bad guys. It doesn’t surprise me that, even at this stage, when it has become crystal clear that these tenants have been stealing taxpayer dollars, you continue to defend them. They are fraudsters (as you are, sir). You cannot help but to continue lying to residents. You’re just incapable of working within the truth and reality. Thank God for the City that the sane people outnumber the crazies and that you were prevented from being in a position to make important decisions. Please read the court filings, you know where to find them (I think, because we know you are a lawyer in name only). These people could easily vindicate themselves by showing their finances and, instead, the police have to be called to stop them from destroying evidence. These people are truly the worst of the worst. Disgusting and shameful (your area of expertise).

  18. Remember that the City Employees work under the City Manager and City Attorney. Planning, Public Works, Parking and other departments are just doing the dirty work of the manager and attorney as directed. Think before you try to clear the staff out. You chop off the head and you kill the dragon.

  19. What Coral Gables doing is very dubious. The owners got signatures to delay and respect the contract that the City ignores; as a I know democracy is by the people to decide but CG employees seems to think them above everyone.
    The reason as an install an Steak House, the everybody opposed, so the City decides to “manage itself” which eventually will be surely be give to the Steak House group.
    The reasons apparently were lack of payment during the pandemic. Aa I head BILTMORE did not pay either but the are not being evicted.
    We are residents for many years; these new administrations are destroying the City with huge buildings and unilateral decisions that do not seems very clear. Let’s stop this

  20. I am a property owner & resident of Coral Gables since 1980. I voted for the Mayor & the rest of the Commission. I know it is not easy as City employees have contracts, etc. But the left over “Triumvirate” of Iglesias, Ramos & Trias Have To Go!!! They have demonstrated with their actions they are incompetent and do not have the best interest of the City and their residents at heart.
    We do not need a City Manager that needs “to leave a Legacy”. Please Mr. Mayor & Commissioners, Clean House!!!!!!

  21. You must be a Coral gables insider, a person who is looking out for justice would not make those statements!
    You do not file eviction motions in the middle of the night and have 6 police officers there first thing in the morning to evict and sieze all the property including bank accounts of a long standing tenant. That what was done by Fidel Castro. Is Coral Gables now a communist regime? Why can there not be due process and have an emergency hearing in the morning to hear the other side’sstory. What a surprise Miriam Ramos forgot to
    Mention in her motion for a receiver there was a signed settlement agreement that was being ignored by the City. the pint was to evict the tenant forcefully!

  22. Ha you must be a Coral gables insider, a person who is looking out for justice would not make those statements!
    You do not file eviction motions in the middle of the night and have 6 police officers there first thing in the morning to evict and sieze all the property including bank accounts of a long standing tenant. That what was done by Fidel Castro. Is Coral Gables now a communist regime? Why can there not be due process and have an emergency hearing in the morning to hear the other side’sstory. What a surprise Miriam Ramos forgot to
    Mention in her motion for a receiver there was a signed settlement agreement that was being ignored by the City. the pint was to evict the tenant forcefully!

  23. Another example of how the integrity of the City of Coral Gables is being destroyed by Peter Iglesias as City Manager and Marian Ramos as City Attorney. Both need to go immediately.

  24. Miriam Ramos must go. She seems to be sneaky, controversial, incompetent, and maybe even worse. After her dismissal, the City Manager should go too. I lived in Coral Gables for 20 years and finally got fed up and moved out in January. It was one controversy and suspect secret shady deal after another. I will not even mention the details of the problems with the building dept and their failure to enforce rules and regulations for “insider friends” but use their power to attack residents who object. It is a shame, Coral Gables was such a nice wholesome place to live. I think the changes began when all those managers came from the City of Miami, which has a very bad history of political theater. It is clear a deal was made for another operator and the City managers secretly, as is now SOP, came up with another crazy idea to evict the tenant. Unfortunately as usual the Coral Gables taxpayers will have to pay the consequences.

  25. Just to be clear, the entire premise of a receiver is to take possession while legal disputes over property are resolved. If folks here (or the tenants) think that the city is up to some mischief, then the best way to resolve the end of the lease is to have the matter subject to court supervision with the help of a professional subject to fiduciary duties. It seems like both sides have been playing “hardball” for a long time and we should wait until the court and receiver do their work in order to find out who was right and wrong. If the tenants’ legal response is any indication they don’t have a leg to stand on. If they did they would talk less about Karl Marx, due process and procedure and more about the terms of their contract.

  26. The City Manager, Peter Iglesias, is very bad for the City. His tactic is to stop projects that the residents want but he personally dislikes. His tactic is to put a very high price tag on the project.
    Stop Burger Bob’s because the price tag is now $900,000. Stop the dog park because the price tag for a simple fence is $275,000.

    Yet, Peter Iglesias has no problem spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars foolishly on the project he wants: his legacy, the Mobility Hub.

    We need a City Manager who works for the residents and not for himself. Someone who is mind-full that residents work hard to pay their taxes.

    The 5 commissioners must find the guts to fire Peter Iglesias.

  27. I have lived in Coral Gables for over 30 years and it’s very sad to see how the private interests groups thrive to impose their agenda on all of us. I live on Alhambra Circle and fought hard to maintain the beauty of the gorgeous trees which have graced this street for years, just to make room for bicyclists who could ride their bikes somewhere else.
    Now the Country Club is also in danger. Who will run it now? How will it be managed? What is going to change? How long will it be closed? Who will get the contracts to restore it if necessary? How much will that cost us?
    I am not against progress and change, but the beauty of our city is that it has maintained its old style beauty and charm. It would be a shame to see the Coral Gables Country Club turned into a South Beach or Brickell Spa and loose it’s present beauty.
    Let’s see where this litigation leads to, and know that the attorneys involved are the ones who are going to benefit. The law firms named are probably charging by the hour and securing their fees and costs, which include texts, phone calls, and even mailing costs from the hefty retainers which the City has to have deposited.
    Well, it’s Holy Thursday, maybe the attorneys are all charitable and working pro bono! That would be an Easter Miracle, otherwise the longer the legal proceedings go on the more money, we the tax payers, will have to pay. The legal fees may be enough for the lawyers to bid on buying the Country Club! The side that wins will probably sue the other for attorneys fees! I know. Though I do not practice commercial litigation, I am a lawyer!

  28. It is clear from day one that the city wanted to take over the establishment. They looked for all loopholes to act in bad faith and get what they want. Another property mismanaged by the city and its employees.

  29. Bound to happen. I worked at the country club previously and always felt that there was something off with management, not shocked they uncovered something sketchy. Employees were treated horribly, over worked and then told to be grateful we had jobs. Karma works in many ways. I hope the next owners take pride in the club and it’s employees.

  30. Got my last workout in this morning at the healthclub. Spoke to our good police officers who were camped right outside of the club. They indicated that padlocks might be placed on the facility later today. I’m sure the city will be returning a pro-rated share of our healthclub membership dues! 🙂

  31. All because they could not get their political contributor to take over the club. The residents are the ones that end up loosing here with months of litigation with the club unused or restrained by these actions. They could have fleshed all these issues out in a later action without the need of these strong arm tactics in our name.

  32. This week’s puppet award goes to Peter Iglesias, City Manager, Coral Gables, Fl.

    Although Mr. Iglesias has won many Puppet Awards, he deserves another.

    This time, he doesn’t know the difference between, on the one hand, the role of private enterprise, and on the other hand, the role of government.

    As the City Manager, he wants to put the government into private enterprise, namely the hospitality industry. He wants to run the Coral Gables Country Club.

    Also, remember he wants to put the government into the construction industry. He wants to build the Mobility Hub.

    As a winner of many Puppet Awards, he is now entitled to one free visit with a psychiatrist of his choice.

  33. This is another example of why the City Attorney, Miriam Ramos, must go.

    She first bought this up this eviction in her usual sneeky way, at the end of the commission hearing.

    Then, she wants to go to court to evict the tenant. She can’t write a paper for the court to do that, even though her salary is over $250,000.00. She had to hire two other lawyers, in private practice, to do her work. The taxpayers will also pay the two other lawyers.

    She didn’t get her way in court. The tenant fired back. More litigation for the taxpayers.

    Ramos must go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.