Realtor investigated for missing condo funds

January 28, 2008 4:17:37 PM PST
Chicago police are investigating claims of missing money from condominium associations.Investigators want to talk with the owners of a prominent realty firm.

No charges have been filed, and no charges are imminent, we are told.

But the financial crimes section of the Chicago Police Department has launched an investigation into a North Side realtor's handling of hundreds of thousands of dollars in condominium association fees.

Numerous condo associations now say that money they've paid for routine services cannot be accounted for, and the people they'd normally call for answers now cannot be reached.

No one was at work Monday at Regent Realty. The office is dark. There's a sign on the front door saying the office is temporarily closed. All calls are being handled by an answering service.

Regent Realty buys and sells properties. It is also a property manager for several dozen condominium associations.

Some of those associations say they began discovering late last week that routine bills for things like snow removal and condo maintenance have gone unpaid for weeks, if not months.

Jay Schindler says his North Side condo association has learned that its operating account was closed out last April.

"What I've been led to believe is funds have been co-mingled and have disappeared," he said. "So that's what it sounds like to me, that a bunch of money's gone missing."

Chicago police are now subpoenaing Regent Realty's bank records. Police confirmed that there's an active investigation in its infant stages. And they're looking into allegations of a possible multi-million dollar scam.

Police are said to want to talk to Jay Strauss, one of the founding directors of Regent Realty. Mr. Strauss lives on North State Parkway in Chicago. Calls to his home went unanswered.

Officers of the many condo associations say they're very concerned and are anxious for answers.

"Apparently our insurance is up to date. We just got to make sure the trash keeps getting picked up," said one officer.

In fact, routine services at many of the condo associations in question have continued, but officers with some of the associations managed by Regent Realty have said they cannot get any answers about accounts they fear may have been drawn down or closed.

That's what police are now attempting to do. Calls Monday to two of Regent's top officers were not returned.