Florida USA Timeshare News: May 24, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

ORLANDO: It’s taken longer than I expected, but a potential class action lawsuit is pending against Marriott Vacations Worldwide/Marriott Vacations Club regarding their switch to a Points system in 2010.

Originally filed in the Ninth Circuit Court in Orange County, FL, it was subsequently moved to Federal District Court. The Plaintiff is Salvatore Desantis on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated; the Defendants are Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. d/b/a/ Marriott Vacation Club International, and Marriott Ownership Resorts Procurement LLC.

The complaint against Marriott is kind of reminiscent of the discontent generated when RCI developed its Points system and “Weeks” owners felt discriminated against; a class action lawsuit was filed against RCI in that case in 2006 (Murillo vs R.C.I.) and settled in 2008/09.

In this case Salvatore Desantis alleges that when Marriott stopped offering its Weeks Program in 2010 and switched to a Points Program, the company considerably devalued the timeshare interests of those in the Weeks Program. Because Weeks owners may only exchange with other Weeks owners, without enrolling new Weeks owners those currently in the program face a dwindling pool of properties/locations available for exchange.

Making it worse, Marriott allegedly has targeted Weeks owners for upgrades into the Points Program, claiming that it’s a better system — but the upgrade isn’t free. According to the complaint, Marriott charges upwards of $10,000 for Club Members in the Weeks Program to convert to the Points Program.

Note that in 2006 Desanti paid $17,400 for his timeshare at the Horizons by Marriott in Orlando, and has since paid all applicable maintenance fees, etc.

According to the complaint:

As a consequence of Marriott’s hard-sell effort targeted at Club Members in the Weeks Program, it has profited enormously by selling to its customers something Marriott has already sold them — the right to easily vacation in Marriott Club resort locations across the globe using their timeshare. Furthermore, with each “upgrade” sale it makes to Club Members in the Weeks Program, Marriott further undercuts the market for exchanging weeks and further devalues timeshares of those in the Weeks Program.

Marriott Vacation Club members enrolled in the Weeks Program have thus been left with two unappealing possibilities. They may accept that the once-robust trade network that once allowed them to new and different places is now so depleted that it either severely limits their options or confines them to only using their deeded real estate; or they may pay Marriott an enormous amount of money to receive a benefit they had already bargained and paid for.

The lawsuit claims that Marriott’s attempt to extract thousands of dollars by trying to resell members in the Weeks Program the very benefits they have taken away from them is fraudulent, deceptive and unconscionable.

The Class the Plaintiff seeks to represent is all MVC members who owned their timeshares under the Weeks Program at the time Marriott stopped selling that program, which was June 20, 2010. Man, that’s a whole lotta people! Attorneys in the case opine that the class could number up to 15,000 timeshare owners.

Marriott is being represented in this case by Greenberg Traurig. The plaintiff is being represented by three law firms: New York-based Squitieri & Fearon, Varnell & Warwick of Lady Lake, FL and Gersowitz Libo & Korek also of New York.

Stay tuned.


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Florida USA Timeshare News: May 17, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

ORLANDO: Westgate Resorts has reported that the company has added 1,500 new positions this year, with 775 of them added in Central Florida. Nearly half the new positions, 673, are in sales and are commission-based. The hiring represents actual growth in the full-time and part-time workforce and not just seasonal hiring.

According to company spokesman Frank Blanco, the company’s total employment currently stands at 8,236. Last year at this time, it was less than 7,000.

Among the new positions are 150 employees the company took on when it purchased the Cocoa Beach Pier.

CEO David Siegel said that the company is in the “best financial position it has ever been in its 44-year existence.”

I could unleash a whole lot of snark here, but I’m feeling kind today so I’ll reserve the snark for another time… ;)

ANYhow, there’s no question that Westgate is getting BIGGER.


ALSO IN ORLANDO: Timeshare exchange company Resort Travel & Xchange’s member base has been growing so fast that the company recently opened a new 5,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art call center in Orlando.

Currently, the call center specifically services members of the Festiva Adventure Club, RTX’s largest client. RTX now serves more than 60,000 members, including nearly 22,000 Festiva Adventure Club members.

RTX works a little differently than most exchange companies. Unlike exchange companies that affiliate resorts, RTX recruits members instead. RTX allows its members to place search requests anywhere (not only affiliated resorts), after which the dedicated team searches for availability in all resorts and hotels in that area, rather than just in a directory. As a result, RTX members have access to the lowest exchange fees, the flexibility of split-week reservations and the longest deposit period in the entire exchange industry.


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Florida USA Timeshare News: May 3, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:


COCOA BEACH: The big news in Cocoa Beach this week is only peripherally about timeshare, in that CFI/Westgate Resorts’ grand poobah is involved. Yep, “King David” Siegel, along with Jim Gissy (Westgate’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing) have partnered up to make a pretty impressive real estate investment in Cocoa Beach but it ain’t no resort. It’s the legendary Cocoa Beach Pier.

No price was revealed for the purchase, but an article in WOFL FOX 35 Orlando quotes Siegel as saying they are planning a massive facelift costing several millions of dollars and the “new pier will be wider, newer, and have a more corporate feel. Big named franchises like Starbucks, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and a Hershey’s Ice Cream store will soon be moving in, says Siegel. The 150 employees who work there can also keep their jobs, and plans call to keep the pier open while renovations are made in stages. The existing restaurants, bars, and their menus will be given a complete overhaul.” They plan to make it the premier family dining and entertainment destination for the Central Florida/Cocoa Beach community.

They currently have no plans to build a small timeshare on the massive parking lot by the pier, but you know how it goes. If the wind changes, well…

Established in 1962 the pier is currently home to 5 restaurants, 4 bars, gift shops, free live musical entertainment and an 800 foot long fishing pier! The pier also offers beach rentals, fresh water showers, regulation beach volleyball courts, lifeguards year round and some of the best surfing on the east coast. Annual events include beach concerts and surf festivals throughout the year.

Members of the Siegel family have called Brevard County home since 1972. During this time, David Siegel founded one of Central Florida’s most popular indoor family attractions – the Mystery Fun House, where he and his family learned the hospitality industry. David grew this early business into Westgate Resorts, which is now the largest privately owned timeshare company in the world.

David Siegel plans to utilize the pier as a means to bring his children into the family business and learn the art of entertaining families. I’m assuming that when he says “his children” he is referring to the eight kids he has with Jackie Siegel, since his other children are already all grown up?


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Florida USA Timeshare News: April 26, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:


ORLANDO: Look for an announcement from Orange Lake Resorts/Holiday Inn Club Vacations in the very near future. This would be in the “Getting BIGGER” category, as Ron Jon’s Cape Caribe Resort in Port Canaveral (Cocoa Beach) is reportedly under contract to be sold to Orange Lake with an official date for the changing of hands set for April 30.

This addition will bring the number of Orange Lake/Holiday Inn Club Vacations resorts to an even dozen, with locations in such popular vacation destinations as Lake Geneva, Wis.; Orlando, Panama City Beach and Marco Island, Fla.; Brownsville, Vt.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Gatlinburg, Tenn; Galveston, Texas; Williamsburg, Va.; and Las Vegas, Nev.

Word is that Cape Caribe owners still hadn’t been officially notified of the sale as of April 18, and they’re not happy about being left in the dark about the transaction.

Details of the deal are still scarce (but probably not for long). Stay tuned.


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Florida USA Timeshare News: April 12, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:


ORLANDO: Six people, claiming to work for three different companies, have been charged by the Florida Attorney General’s Office on one count each of organized fraud for operating a timeshare resale telemarketing scam. Investigators claim that timeshare owners across the country received unsolicited telephone calls from telemarketers representing Clement Park, Inc., Clyde Trails Financials, or Eastgate Solutions, LLC..

The individuals charged in the case are:

  • Kevin Michael Quinton, DOB 09/28/77, Tampa, FL
  • Susan Montiegel Siegel, DOB 04/10/51, Orlando, FL
  • Michael Matthew Ramos, DOB 06/03/66, Altamonte Springs, FL
  • Clinton E Becker, DOB 12/16/82, Wilmington, OH
  • Scott Douglas Stewart, DOB 10/27/55, Saint Cloud, FL
  • Jason Keith House, DOB 10/01/76, Kissimmee, FL

According to the investigation, no timeshares were actually sold through this scheme, and more than 350 victims have been identified with losses totaling more than $753,000.

The defendants used virtual offices in Tampa, but Kevin Jackson, Chief Investigator for Hillsborough County Consumer Protection, said, “Simply because this band of telemarketing timeshare thieves from the Orlando area utilized phony addresses, names, virtual offices, and bank accounts in Hillsborough County attempting to hide their trail, doesn’t mean we won’t spend the necessary time to unravel their scheme and make them pay for their crimes.”

If convicted the defendants each face up to 30 years or life in prison, and fines of up to $15,000. This case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.


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Getting BIGGER: April 12, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
Interval International has added five new properties to its network of affiliated resorts.

In Breckenridge, CO, Interval has affiliated The Colorado Grand, the newest project in the Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV) family of resorts. In conjunction with this affiliation, Interval has also extended its agreements with the three other BGV properties. The first BGV resort to join Interval was Gold Point Condominiums in 1985. It was followed by Grand Timber Lodge, then Grand Lodge on Peak 7, and now The Colorado Grand.

In Los Cabos, MX, Interval has welcomed The Resort at Diamante, a shared ownership property within the 1,500-acre Diamante Cabo San Lucas master-planned community. Situated just a few miles north of Cabo San Lucas city center, The Resort at Diamante will consist of 120 units to be constructed in three phases. The units will have a kitchen, Internet access, cable TV, iPod docking station, and private terraces. The first phase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

Also in Mexico, Interval and and Karisma Hotels & Resorts have entered into a long-term, multi-site affiliation agreement for Generations Resorts, the newest brand operated by Karisma. This encompasses Generations Maroma and Generations Riviera Maya, two upscale beachfront developments in the Mexican Caribbean. Generations Riviera Maya recently opened with 144 large oceanfront units, swim-up infinity pools, and distinctive decorative accents inspired by Mexican culture.

Generations Maroma is a boutique property located on Maroma Beach, considered among Travel Channel’s best beaches in the world. The resort includes 30 units designed in a contemporary Caribbean decor, with views of lush tropical gardens or white sand and clear waters.

In Orlando, FL, Interval has signed a master affiliation with Club Trust LLC, doing business as staySky Vacation Club. The long-term agreement includes staySky Vacation Club’s four existing resorts in Orlando as well as future properties. Interval will provide reservation services, points-based exchange, and the comprehensive Interval Gold® package of expanded benefits.

Among the products offered by staySky Vacation Club are a points-based, multi-site vacation club; a membership-club plan; and a whole-ownership plan. The club’s flagship property is the luxurious Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, which has one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condominium-style units with private balconies in a village like setting just minutes from area theme parks.

Other resorts in the staySky Vacation Club are Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista, staySky Suites-I Drive Orlando, and Enclave Suites.

In addition to those new affiliations, Preferred Residences®, a worldwide branding program for luxury shared ownership resorts offered by Interval International, has announced the addition of CéBlue Villas & Beach Resort, an exclusive private residence club on Anguilla in the Caribbean. The property is nestled on a hillside overlooking Crocus Bay and combines a relaxed atmosphere with luxuriously appointed villas. The nearly 8,000-square-foot villas feature five bedrooms and baths, gourmet kitchen, media room, state-of-the-art electronics, two spacious decks, private plunge pool and outdoor shower, and a two-car enclosed garage. Golf carts are available for use on the property.


RCI and Azure Malta have announced the signing of a multi-year agreement for the affiliation of Island Residence Club at Golden Sands Resort on Malta. Island Residence Club at Golden Sands, which joins the RCI network of affiliated resorts with the RCI Gold Crown Resort® property designation, offers a luxurious collection of residences in the prime setting of the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Golden Sands. The resort comprises 66 studio, 45 one-bedroom, 30 one-bedroom deluxes, 48 two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments, all generously appointed. Mediterranean styling is featured throughout the spacious accommodations, which benefit from large dining areas and unparalleled views of either the coastline or the unspoiled beauty of Malta’s largest nature and history park.


cheerleaderRCI and Interval International: getting BIGGER!


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Florida USA Timeshare News: February 22, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CELEBRATION: Disney Vacation Club has renewed its multi-year affiliation agreement with RCI, extending a relationship that began when DVC swapped exchange partners from Interval International to RCI in 2008.

At the time of the move to RCI word on the street was that DVC’s properties just didn’t have the oomph necessary for good exchanges at Interval’s more prestigious resorts and the change made it easier for DVC members to get good trades. Be that as it may, it seems that the relationship with RCI has been a happy one (though I still occasionally hear wistful whispers from members desiring to go back to Interval).

DVC currently offers vacation ownership options at 12 resorts located in Florida, California, Hawaii and South Carolina. Its next planned resort will be built at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, located on Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World Resort, near its newest property to open, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. When Disney’s Polynesian Resort project is completed, Disney Vacation Club will have destinations at all three resorts on the monorail system, including Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Resort, allowing easy access to Magic Kingdom Park.

And of course the affiliation with RCI offers DVC’s members options to exchange at nearly 4,500 affiliated resorts in more than 100 countries. And that ain’t hay!


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Getting BIGGER: February 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
Defender Resorts has been chosen by the Board of Directors of LeHigh Resort Club as their new professional management company.

LeHigh Resort Club is a secluded and expansive 154-unit property with an on-site golf course located in LeHigh Acres, on Florida’s West Coast near Fort Myers Beach. LeHigh Resort Club joins 23 other resorts (25 associations) in the Defender Resorts management portfolio as their largest resort and first one with its own golf course.

Defender Resorts, Inc. has been providing quality management service to the timeshare and vacation ownership industry for more than 30 years. Headquartered in Myrtle Beach, SC., they currently have offices in five states. The company presently manages timeshare resorts in Myrtle Beach & North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Ocean City, Maryland; Dewey Beach, Delaware; Boca Raton, Lehigh Acres & Jensen Beach, Florida and Lenox & Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Beech Mountain, North Carolina, Grand Cayman Islands, St. Croix, USVI, Dutch Caribbean and the Florida Keys.


Elite Alliance, a leader in exchange services for prestigious residence clubs and luxury, professionally managed vacation homes, has welcomed The Residence Club of Argentina to its international portfolio.

The Residence Club accommodations, located in Argentina’s most coveted destinations, combine the advantages of real estate ownership, the services and amenities of a luxury resort, and membership privileges at private sporting and wine clubs. The three properties included are:

  • Buenos Aires – Palermo Tower
  • Mendoza – Auberge du Vin
  • Bariloche – Arelauquen Lodge

cheerleaderDefender Resorts & Elite Alliance: getting BIGGER!


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Florida USA Timeshare News: January 18, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

ORLANDO: CFI Sales & Marketing LLC (Westgate Resorts) has filed lawsuits against more than four dozen of its former timeshare sales reps, seeking to claw back thousands of dollars in commissions paid to each of them years ago. At least 53 defendants are being sued in Orange County Circuit Court alone (so far), with another handful in Osceola County Circuit Court.

At issue is the infamous “six timely, consecutive payments” clause in their contracts, and here’s how that works (in case you don’t know).

Let’s say you make a sale. In most timeshare sales scenarios in the USA you collect the downstroke, the papers are signed, then you sweat out the rescission period before you can receive your commission. Once the rescission period has passed you are eligible to get paid, but 10% of that commission is plopped into a reserve fund to offset commissions on any deals that go sideways.

Under the six timely consecutive payments scenario, depending on how it’s structured, you might have to wait until the purchaser has made those payments to collect your commission. In Westgate’s case, they pay you half-commission the next day (at least they used to; do they still?), then you wait for the remainder until the required payments have been made.

What if the purchaser makes 6 consecutive payments but one of them is received a day late? The period is started all over again, and you have to sit through another 6 timely consecutive payments period to collect the commissions owed even though the developer has in fact collected the money. As you can see, under this scenario you can wait a very long time to get paid. Meanwhile, the 10% of your sales commissions being plopped into your reserve fund continues to accumulate.

Historically — in many cases under many timeshare developers — once you leave that employer you suddenly discover that not only will you not collect owed commissions but they’ll claim you owe them, in spite of those developers having kept the down payment and whatever subsequent payments the purchasers have made.

What this clause does in a nutshell is to penalize the sales person for the payment habits of the purchasers, regardless of the reason(s) for a late or non-payment.

Anyhow, that clause is at the core of Westgate’s claims against these former sales reps, most of whom have not worked for the company for several years. Westgate alleges that the defendants (each of whom has been sued separately) were paid commissions they didn’t earn, that there wasn’t enough money in their reserve accounts to cover those commissions, and that clause gives the company the right to go after those commissions. It goes something like this (quoted from another lawsuit, Satterfield v CFI):

In the event [Plaintiff] is no longer engaged by CFI, irrespective of the reason for the termination of engagement, [Plaintiff] shall be charged back for all sales upon which commission[s] have been paid in the event the purchaser(s) has/have not made six (6) timely and consecutive monthly payments as well as ten percent (10%) minimum down payment.

But here’s the kicker: At least the majority of those currently being sued were previously involved in a class action lawsuit against Westgate/CFI for unfair wage and hour practices (alleging that Westgate improperly classified them as independent contractors when in fact they were employees and should have been paid as such). That case was finally settled last summer.

Coincidence? They don’t think so…

You can get more details, including some names and quotes from attorneys for both sides, in The Orlando Sentinel.

PS: There’s a little ditty in timeshare land that is said to have originated with Westgate sales reps years ago. Is it relevant here?

Hire ‘em in masses
Train ‘em in classes
Fire their asses
Keep their reserves.

king tut


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Florida USA Timeshare News: December 21, 2013

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

ORLANDO: Largo-based Finn Law Group has filed another lawsuit against a timeshare company; this time it’s Orange Lake Resort’s turn, and the lawsuit alleges that the resort and its subsidiaries engaged in unfair consumer collections practices that violated state and federal law and invaded the privacy of the timeshare owners.

The suit, Laning, et al. v. Orange Lake Country Club Inc., et al., cause no. 2013-CA-014732-O, was filed on behalf of several timeshare owners on Dec. 13 in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, in Orange County.

The suit alleges that Orange Lake and its subsidiaries began contacting the timeshare owners using an automated dialing system. The harassing calls led the plaintiffs to believe they had to choose between paying an alleged debt or they would continue to receive the misdirected communications. The timeshare owners hired the Finn Law Group and the law firm notified Orange Lake of its representation. Despite the notice, Orange Lake continued its debt collection attempts. The complaint alleges violations of Florida’s Unfair Debt Collections Practices Act, the federal Telephone Communications Protection Act and invasion of privacy.

The timeshare owners seek an injunction that would put an end to the resort’s debt collection phone calls and letters as well as an award of damages, costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief the court deems proper.

How many timeshare-related lawsuits does Finn have in the queue now anyway? Five? Six? More?

He’s a busy busy man. There’s nothing like getting an attorney mad at an entire industry to keep that industry’s own attorneys hopping. ;)


WEST PALM BEACH: In June this year Doris A. Heliin and Joseph R. Heinz pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy in federal court in a timeshare resales fraud case. They have now been sentenced and will soon begin serving time in the Big House.

Heliin, who must surrender to begin serving her prison term by Feb. 18, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in federal prison. She could have received as much as 20 years, but got a lesser sentence as a result of her cooperation with authorities to help convict her three comrades in crime. She was also ordered to pay $520,342 in restitution.

Heinz, whose role in the fraud was not as great, was sentenced to one year and two months in prison and must begin serving his punishment by March 7. He was ordered to pay $74,289 in restitution.

Heliin was one of the directors for Smart Choice Vacations and TMI Enterprises Inc., which was started in 2010. With the assistance of fellow scammer Keith B. Schilling (who pleaded guilty in May), they opened boiler rooms and hired telemarketers (including Heinz) to call timeshare owners around the country. You know the drill. They convinced their victims to send anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for nonexistent services and kept the money for their own use. More than 250 timeshare owners lost a total of $1.1 million in the scam.

And that’s that.


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Florida USA Timeshare News: December 14, 2013

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

FORT LAUDERDALE: Benjamin C. Harris, 52, has been arrested and charged with unlicensed real estate activity and three counts of unlicensed telemarketing. The charges are related to alleged timeshare resale fraud that occurred back in January, February and March 2012.

Benjamin Harris mug shot, Broward Sheriff's OfficeHarris was operating a business called George Michael Properties, Inc., which was incorporated in Florida in October of 2010 but has been inactive (administratively dissolved for not filing an annual report) since Sept. 2012.

In one online venue the company is described thusly: George Michael Properties, Inc. is a Vacation Property Realty Company. We specialize in people that own vacation property that either want to liquidate, benefit or enjoy their vacation property real estate. We make it easy for the current owner to sell or rent their resort and we make it easy for new owners get acclimated to using their new vacation property for many years of relaxation and building memories to share for a lifetime. Here at the GMPI family, we have many years of combined experience to assist our clients in every aspect of becoming a new owner or to professionally become a former owner of vacation property real estate.

The main thrust of the company seems to have been calling timeshare owners with an offer to sell their timeshares for them within 180 days, with a money-back guarantee if the timeshares weren’t sold within that time period.

Harris is alleged to have represented himself as working for George Michael Properties (when in reality he owned it) and under that guise collected money upfront for the company’s services, but the charges against him claim that he pocketed the money, made no attempt to sell the timeshares and never refunded the money.

Though the current charges against him include only three instances of fraud (in Minnesota, Missouri and Satsuma, Fla.) it’s likely there are more victims. For instance, in Ripoff Report someone named Joyce in Connecticut filed a complaint against him in Dec. 2011 claiming he ripped her off for a goodly sum. First he allegedly charged her $358 upfront, then:

He said the closings would take place on December 5th and the other on December 19th, 2011. He needed $1,208.00 to close on one where half of this wold be returned to me in the closing. The other one he took $1016.00 out of my account, not only once but twice. He claimed taking it twice was an error and that he would overnight it back to me. Then he said he returned it to me by prioity mail and tracked it to Danbury, a town very close to where I live. You guessed it, I never did get it. [sic]

From the three instances for which he was arrested he allegedly collected a total of around $1,300.

According to the Florida Department of Professional and Business Regulation, neither Harris nor his company are licensed to conduct real estate activity in Florida.

Harris was booked into the Joseph V. Conte Facility on Dec. 10 and remanded to Broward County Main jail on Dec. 12, where he is being held without bond for violating his probation on an out-of-state aggravated assault case.


WEST PALM BEACH: This is something new to me. I’ve become familiar with an awful lot of timeshare-related lawsuits over the years, but this is the first one I’ve come across involving an objection to the payment of title insurance by timeshare/fractional owners.

The case, entitled McIntyre v. Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc., et al., Case No. 13-80184-Civ-RNS, is presently pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola’ recent ruling against Marriott’s motion to dismiss allows the case to proceed to discovery and class certification. In his decision, Judge Scola denied Marriott’s motion on plaintiffs’ claim of unjust enrichment and permitted plaintiffs an opportunity to replead an alternate claim under Florida’s Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act, holding that “the Marriott Defendants’ alleged misrepresentations about the necessity of purchasing title insurance as a component of purchasing the timeshare are fairly construed as a misrepresentation regarding the promotion of the timeshare plan.”

The class action complaint alleges that, as part of the sales process for timeshares, Marriott requires purchasers to obtain title insurance for their fractional shares and, through a Marriott-owned subsidiary, provides that coverage for an additional fee. Plaintiffs allege that because Marriott purchased and developed the underlying real estate, and created the timeshare estates on that property, title insurance for original purchasers was unnecessary and superfluous to the protection already afforded under the special warranty deeds they received. In sum, plaintiffs allege that Marriott takes advantage of timeshare purchasers by requiring them to purchase something that appears legitimate but serves no legitimate purpose other than to increase Marriott’s profits on the sale.

The plaintiffs’ case is being handled by New York-based Newman Ferrara, LLP. Potential class members and others interested in learning more about this case or similar actions, may contact Newman Ferrara partner Jeffrey M. Norton by email (jnorton@nfllp.com) or call (212) 619-5400

Stay tuned for more as this case moves forward.


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Florida USA Timeshare News: December 7, 2013

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CELEBRATION: The much anticipated first annual Brian Gay Invitational golf tournament is underway even as we speak. Organized and sponsored by Las Vegas, NV-based Diamond Resorts International, this is a best-in-class celebrity/amateur golf tournament at Diamond’s Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club with opening day festivities held yesterday (Dec. 6), and the remainder of the tournament running today and tomorrow (Dec. 7-8). Net proceeds will benefit the Walt Disney Pavilion at the Florida Hospital for Children (FHFC), a medical facility in Orlando.

Brian Gay Invitational scheduleIn addition to the golf tournament, the weekend’s events will include a private golf clinic with Brian Gay, an awards ceremony and a concert featuring a special guest artist. For non-golfers, the weekend will include VIP trips to local area attractions, VIP shopping excursions and spa treatments.

This is a pretty big deal and there are some pretty big names on the list of celebrities (which you can view by clicking on the accompanying picture), and Diamond has worked hard to pull it off. Mike Flaskey, DRI’s Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing – North America, can take a lot of the credit for it (he’s the Tour Director) and of course Brian Gay, Diamond’s PGA touring professional, was instrumental by agreeing to lend his name and lead the event.

If you’re interested, you can listen to an interview of Flaskey and Gay on PGA Tour Radio by following this link to the event’s site on Tumblr. It’s definitely worth a listen.

So KUDOS to DRI and Brian Gay for initiating this event, which will bring much-needed funds to a very worthy cause!


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Florida USA Timeshare News: November 30, 2013

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

FORT LAUDERDALE: Last week we learned that Pasquale “Posh” Pappalardo was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, Inc. $5 Million resale fraud scam that the Feds busted up back in 2010. He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for his sins.

This week his partner in crime Joseph “Joey Cigars” Crapella, who testified against Pappalardo in return for a lighter sentence, learned his own fate: Four years and three months in prison and he has to pay $950,000 in restitution.

Crapella, who is taking prescribed methadone to fight his addiction to oxycodone pain pills, had asked for a delay in sentencing but that request was denied. The judge did take note of his concern that he could be in physical danger from his codefendants and others while in prison, though. The U.S. Marshalls Service assured him that he would be serving his time outside of Broward or Miami-Dade counties.

Crapella, who previously served seven years for racketeering, could have faced 14 to 17.5 years in prison had he not cut a plea deal with prosecutors.

During the 10 months that Timeshare Mega Media was in business, it fraudulently obtained approximately $5,000,000 from about 3,000 customers.

In all 41 codefendants were charged in the case. Two have been convicted in trials, 36 (including Crapella) have pleaded guilty, two remain fugitives, and one has died.


LAKE BUENA VISTA: Disney Vacation Club is pretty high on the performance of its new Grand Floridian resort, which is apparently selling very well in spite of the high price attached to it. Still, following the initial burst of sales when the resort opened, sales have dropped by about two thirds and, again, that may have something to do with the price.

The current price at The Grand Floridian is $150 per point, for which buyers get 50 years worth of use. The minimum buy-in for the resort is around $15,000, which gets you 100 points. BUT, and here’s the rub, to get enough points for annual use of a 1-bedroom “standard-view” unit during Disney World’s slowest season they would need to spend more than twice that amount.

And for annual use of a 2-bedroom, lake-view unit during Disney World’s busiest season you’d need to fork over a whopping $112,800 for 752 points. (For 20% less you can get the same configuration overlooking the theme park.)

That’s an owie for me. Resales anyone?


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

Florida USA Timeshare News: November 23, 2013

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

FORT LAUDERDALE: Remember Joseph “Joey Cigars” Crappela and Pasquale “Posh” Pappalardo? They were the main operators of the Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, Inc. $5 Million resale fraud scam that the Feds busted up back in 2010.

Crapella, in order to avoid a really looong time in the slammer, cut a plea deal with prosecutors last July that guarantees he’ll spend no more than five years locked up — in return for his cooperation in the case. Pappalardo went to trial this month and has now been convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to 40 years in prison and a fine of about $750,000 or more.

Also convicted was a salesman for the group, Audwin Lovinsky, who faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and a fine of up about $250,000 or more. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29, 2014.

During the 10 months that TMMMG was in business, it fraudulently obtained approximately $5,000,000 from about 3,000 customers. Pappalardo received at least $300,000 in checks and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from the money sent by victims of the resale scam.

In all 41 codefendants were charged in the case. Besides Lovinsky and Pappalardo, 36 have already pleaded guilty, two remain fugitives, and one has died.

You can get a lot more details here.


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com