$6,000 permit was pulled on phony plans for imaginary bath/kitchen demo before $1,000,000 build

-out proceeded


20 July 2012 Special to the SunPost By David Arthur Walters The South Florida real estate recovery has been a boon for Miami’s Sharron Lewis Design Central, headed by Jihad Doujeiji, who succeeded his wife, Sharron Lewis, when she passed away in March 2011 after a long bout with terminal cancer, but he is encountering some difficulty with licensing and permitting along the way. Sharron ran the interior design and furniture manufacturing divisions for the firm. Jihad took care of the construction end but he had no license; therefore Sharron studied, passed the exam, and obtained a general contracting license for him to work under. He did not alert the licensing authorities when she died, and was soon cited for operating without a license, for which he received “just a traffic ticket.” Still, he was worried enough to get himself a trusted expeditor, who in turn, besides fiddling with plans and getting them approved, induced licensed contractors to put their license numbers on permit applications to “make the paper look good.” He still did all the bidding, the contracting, the billing and disbursement of funds. He ran the jobs and his own crew did most of the work, sometimes using licensed subcontractors for electrical and plumbing. He was well known as competent general contractor, so who cared if he had no license as long as licensed contractors signed the permit applications under penalties of perjury? Jihad scratched the contractor information off his business card and went ahead with contracting, bidding and landing millions in contracts. He called himself a construction manager. We asked the state licensing board if someone could just call himself a “construction manager” and not

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have to obtain a license. No dice. We were referred to an official understatement rendered to another inquirer: a construction manager is a general contractor. According to Tony Gonzalez, operations manager of the City of Miami Beach Building Department, unlicensed contractors are occasionally tagged by inspectors for running jobs on a borrowed license, i.e. “piggybacking.” The licensed contractor on record, who has been watching television or out boating, is called in, and does not seem to know anything about the job. However, said Mr. Gonzalez, that kind of case is hard to prove so seldom prosecuted. It is the form and not the substance of the thing that counts, at least until buildings start falling down. Jihad may eventually learn the formalities of how to best play the game; say, get a licensed contractor, as a partner, to put his license in one of his companies, sign documents, perhaps go over the plans, maybe show up on the jobs once in awhile, and otherwise avoid the appearance of impropriety, for a commission on gross revenue and small share of the profits. Never mind the licensing. Jihad is involuntarily raising otherwise lazy eyebrows due to the SunPost’s exposé of something “every contractor does,” so much so that wrong seems right because wrong has been done so long. Indeed, it has allegedly become so customary that it seems “perfectly legal,” at least until one is caught doing it, and then the penalty is “just a traffic ticket,” amounting to having to pay double permit fees plus a small penalty for attempting to deprive government of the permit fees it is entitled to, by stealing a march on the regulators, gaining a secret advantage over them, thus leaving the government in the lurch and the unwitting majority holding an empty bag. If permit fees evaded were taxes, the evasion would be felonious. But construction seems to have its own world governed by a masonic conspiracy set on overthrowing the foundations of any government it cannot control. Deceiving the government out of permit fees would seemingly be covered by laws prohibiting attempts to defraud or actual grand larceny; but law enforcement apparently cannot sell it as a crime to prosecutors, who cannot sell it to judges, although the Man on the Street would think it is deserving of a trial, especially if he knew how much money is pocketed by the unindicted conspirators every year. Contractors call it “getting ahead of the job.” We have accordingly titled our expose ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con,’ beginning with ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con at the Icon,’ and ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con at the Continuum,’ and now this, ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con at Sunset Harbour.’ The irony of the Icon project is that the fabulous remodeling job done in unit 1801, after it was wrecked by foreclosure “victims,” was not permitted by the City of Miami Beach at all, according to a city records clerk, yet Sharron Lewis Design Central features a photograph of the living room redone there on its home page. The Icon contract was completed for Gerald Jonas, a seasoned Wisconsin general contractor in town speculating on real estate on behalf of his company’s profit sharing plan, which is allegedly brimming over with accumulated earnings. Mr. Jonas certainly had a winning team for the Icon deal: namely, his real estate agent, Bragi
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000.000 in construction costs plus furnishings valued at around half that. more than satisfied with his team’s results at the Icon.000.000 in 2007. and after we stated that it was impossible for the permitted job to be an owner-builder project given the circumstances. condominium/penthouse TS3 at Sunset Harbour. In this case. in March 2008. Chase Bank foreclosed and sold it to K. agreeing with Jihad to nearly $1. After the permit had been approved on the basis of the application. lead interior designer and marketing maven Elizabeth Calomiris and her design consultants. contractor Jihad Doujeiji.” she stated on May 16. Jorge Hernandez and John Wheeler. the plans were reviewed and approved for the kitchen and bathroom demolition. Ramkissoon sold it to Jonas Builders Profit Sharing Plan in February for $2. however.” Page 3 of 7    .000 in January of this year. at Sharron Lewis Design Central. $5.000. stated that our portrayals were “misrepresentations. was inappropriate. the permit was “closed” in June 2008. Mr. and said that the entire process had been inappropriate.000 after commissions and staging costs of $167.000. “Contractors do not have to be listed on a permit application at the time of the initial submittal for plan review.000. “A ‘to be assigned’ would be noted and a contractor when required would necessarily have to be assigned before the permit is issued. misrepresentations that in our opinion were neither innocent nor negligent but were fraudulent. scope. which is the scope of the applicable permit.Sigurdsson. the blanks were filled in with the names of contractors and the nature. to be filled in later as needed. Mr. in bold capital letters. signed a blank permit application under penalties of perjury.” including our opinion that the standard procedure of signing documents in blank under penalties of perjury. ft. as owner and ownerbuilder. at which time Mr. without the benefit of an expeditor trusted by plan approvers.263. Jonas flipped the Icon apartment six months after he bought it. a seasoned Wisconsin contractor and investor. Ramkissoon LLC for $1.700.000.000. a Building Department official crossed out the owner-builder attestation. there is a contractor in place.500. Jonas.650 sq. On March 21. contracted with Jihad at Sharron Lewis Design Central to build out the empty and bare 6. The application form expressly prohibited. The value added by the staging of the apartment and the improving market for high end apartments may reap an even higher price of.350. netting an estimated $1. Gerald Jonas. say. no construction done. Plans had been drawn in 2007 and a permit applied for “remodeling” at a stated value of $200. Sigurdsson had it listed for $3. In this case. 2012. and value of the work. A source within the building said the unit is “cursed. That permit. an attorney in the City Attorney’s office who had reviewed the application for approval. was approved eight long months later. Rhonda Montoya Hasan.900. an owner from signing the form in the owner-builder section unless s/he is actually an owner builder.” One Felix Mostelac bought it for $6. We opined that the alteration of the completed and approved application constituted a “tampering” with evidence.

and his name was obviously on the application for the permit. on a tardy updating of the county appraiser’s records instead of admitting to the mistake. who called him to ask “routine survey questions about the million-dollar Sunset Harbour contract. but Rusty had made the mistake of putting his name down. She falsely blamed the error. However that may be.000. In fact. such being the amazing speed of expeditor Rusty in getting plans and permits approved. plus cash from the Money Truck for special expenses. Jason Sipes.The fact that the permit was issued for the destruction of a nonexistent kitchen and bathroom was not a misrepresentation but a fact supported by photographic evidence. are unlicensed by the contractor’s licensing board. as a contact. particularly in the handling and review of documents critical to the revenues of the city and safety of the public. a licensed general contractor dba Allstate General Contracting. the intent was to complete the $1. They do not have to put their names to the jobs they expedite. which was allowed to persist for some time after we pointed it out. Former City Manager Jorge Gonzalez said he protested against the expedition business. Rusty is especially valued for having available an architect who will sign without much ado onto plans drawn by permit seekers or their draftsmen.000. based on a public photograph showing the space was completely empty before the permit was pulled. She did not respond.” The application was filed on April 6 and approved on April 20. and therefore having no bathroom and kitchen to demolish. by the way. was bound to do come hell or high water.” Rusty allegedly had a familiar architect approve a doctoring of the old 2007 plans. Sipes hung up the phone on our reporter. Again. Felix Mostelac. the major expeditor. ft. eight times. it is form over substance: everything is permitted “as long as the paper looks good. which had not come to fruition.” Expeditors. an inspector Page 4 of 7    . driven by cash flow. was induced to sign the application under penalties of perjury on March 27—Mr. the blank application was signed by Gerald Jonas on March 21. After our repeated urging.000 Sunset Harbour contract as quickly as possible. but he said his objections were dismissed by vested interests. were needed. We also pointed out that the permit erroneously bore the name of a previous owner. and that is what Jihad. A public records request turned up no jobs permitted over the past five years for Permit Doctors. In response to Ms. We believe his initial fee including hard cash for out-of-pocket expenses was around $22. that number probably increased when things went awry and more consulting fees. Montoya.000. Enter plan and permit fixer Orestes “Rusty” Innocenti aka Rusty At The Copy Shop. The facts affirmed by the signatories to the application were that a “Kitchen Bathroom Demo” would be done in a “500 sq.” area at a stated value of “$6. we asserted that her denials were a constructive admission that mistakes had been made in accordance with bad policy. a fact that had caused considerable confusion on the part of several people because the county record had Jonas Builders as owner at the time. the detection of which was apparently another misrepresentation in her mind. apparently to show the demolition of a kitchen/bathroom that had never been built.

numbered B1203805. filed on May 29 for a stated value of $400.000 sq. Permit BD120153 was obtained for kitchen and bathroom demo.” “Trusty Rusty” or “Speedy Rusty. Need to stop all work. electrical. 4-D was deeded by Mr. The company address that Mr. Bergen provided his business (“C.G. even with the same documentation. to sign new work permit application B1203805 on May 27.000 retail value of anti-demolition work had all ready been done before the inspector caught up with what is known in the industry as “Getting Ahead of The Job. Doujeiji. Mr. to confirm an allegation that he had been “taken care of” at the outset of construction.managed to get into the building.D. are “Drawn” by “Rusty” for the “Job” called “Jihad. dated May 28. private residence at 8001 Crespi Blvd 4-D. Bergen’s signature on the application was notarized by Rusty. Bergen’s information. Bergen registered with the contractors licensing board is 1521 Alton Road Suite 646. new electrical.000 to $300. and structural components of the plans approved for permitting. prone to making and reiterating mistakes. by May 31. Need to submit the required documents to obtained approved permit and inspection. were not returned. Double fees apply. Mr. Wisconsin on its May 29 Receipt of Payment.” as he is sometimes called. Building Department Director Stephen Scott acknowledged that there was some difficulty in gaining access. Permit BD120153 has been revoked. Miami Beach. Rusty got Harald Bergen dba Construction Design Group International Inc. Sharron Lewis Design Central staff allegedly drafted plans in accord with the real intention of the owner.I”) address on the new permit application as an 841 sq.” Mr. had all ready. erroneously gives the city as Milwaukee. ft. Total interior demolition took place (emphasis added). In any event. The alacrity of expeditors is rather amazing when compared to the lengthy time it takes owners and developers to pull permits without their services. Stop Work Order BV12000621 was issued on May 29 based on the obvious fact that the work done had nothing whatsoever to do with the work permitted: “Work done without approved permit.000 in interior remodeling of 6.” The inspector was apparently unaware of the fact that the space was empty when the permit was pulled. which is a customary practice in some quarters. Several calls to the building manager. new plumbing.. The application appears to be a duplicate of the one originally signed in blank by Gerald Jonas as owner-builder way back in March. with the blanks filled in this time with a different scope and value of work. Florida 33141. which must have forewarned them of our investigation. alerted to our persistent inquiries to top city officials. The official plans. including new electrical. Doujeiji and Innocenti.” There was no “total interior demolition. new A/C. Bergen and his wife to a single woman in 2005. Page 5 of 7    . however. on May 29. allegedly his main client. A surveillance photo taken when the job was shut down indicates that perhaps $200. 8001 Crespi Blvd. and with Mr. Jonas and his Florida attorney failed to respond to requests for information. gotten the zoning. plumbing. Mssrs. were prepared for the May 29 shutdown. and mechanical work. the city. Mr. plus construction work as of new partitions.. ft. a drop box in a UPS store.

City officials at this deadline have not responded to our suggestion that the “new” application be voided and an untainted one obtained. and proof the mastermind of the deception was unlicensed contractor. for an additional fee of $22. Not that there were not two forms.78. we were informed by someone who does some expediting himself that the Building Department opposed assessing double-permit fee penalties for getting ahead of the job and were inclined to waive them.351. based on allegations that Mssrs. A proper application unstained by past misconduct should be submitted. we opined to Mr. May 29 permit application BD1203805 was initially stated at $24. The pertinent fees were then virtually doubled: the July 6 Receipt of Payment shows a total fee of $46.945. The fee for the fraudulently obtained and then rescinded permit BD120153 was $947.000 altogether. to gain access to buildings. and to building managers. which appeared to be identical in some respects.80. with one to be held in abeyance just in case—several blank checks can come in handy as everyone who is gaming the system knows. And contractors who knowingly affirm falsehoods would arguably have perjured themselves. If false information were subsequently provided.” We said we had good cause to be suspicious of any forms used by Jihad Doujeiji.98. to which he responded that our source was incorrect. which in our opinion was fraudulently obtained. to make sure. the owner would have saved nearly $46. “What are you and/or your colleagues doing to radically reform the system so this sort of misconduct is unlikely to pass muster in the future?” To the best of our knowledge. such as Photo Shopped certificates of insurance provided to owners. comparing especially carefully the signatures of the notary. No one knows for certain how many millions of dollars has been lost by the city on other Page 6 of 7    . upon the payment of a whopping fee. that the signatures are actually in the original and not forged. And. Scott about our source’s statement regarding the waiver of penalties. Scott that it would seem to a reasonable layperson that anyone who swears or affirms to whatever might be inserted in a document later on should be held accountable for whatever appears on it later on.593. asking him what he or his colleagues have done now that they have incontrovertible evidence that the City of Miami Beach had been fooled. We suggested that the Building Department “be overly cautious when reexamining the two applications. for example. On June 17. The fee on the new.” Regarding old permit BD120153. We troubled Mr. we asked. approval of the “new” permit is expected forthwith.93. If the contractor had completed the project on the basis of the demolition permit and gone undetected. the owners who signed permits in blank would have committed perjury. Neither has Director Scott responded to our June 11 request.In a July 5 letter to Building Department Director Scott. we stated that application B1230805 of 29 May 2012 appears to be “invalid as to form and should be rejected out of hand. and that the new general contractor has had little or nothing to do with the job as of yet. and examining her book to see if two forms were actually notarized. Doujeiji and Innocenti have visited the site to plan the work. for contracting purposes.

and public corruption over the last few years.construction projects due to negligence. Our guess is at least $50.000.000. fraud. ## Page 7 of 7    .

000.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    Getting Ahead of the Job Con at the Special Master’s Court August 15. stating that the original notice of the violation was defective.520 of the fine and released the lien on the property at 50 South Pointe Drive Suite 801. whose relationship with the current Special Masters has become controversial of late. Doujeiji had been caught demolishing the luxury condominium at the Continuum without a permit. 2012 By David Arthur Walters THE MIAMI MIRROR Our investigation into the public records of renegade contractor Jihad Doujeiji dba Sharron Lewis Design Central et al in conjunction with our series Getting Ahead of The Job Con led us to an old code violation citation that was disposed of by Special Master Babak Movahedi on August 11. Mr. about the dismissal. Borkowski Page 1 of 5    . First Assistant City Attorney Steven Rothstein dismissed all but $2. We questioned the City Attorney’s Office. The special magistrate denied a request to mitigate a fine of nearly $30. 2011. so a Stop Work Order and Notice of Violation were noticed to one Ricardo D. However.

000 plus costs. Asgeirdottir’s name on it. Borkowski had sold the unit on August 19 to Margret Asgeirsdottir. and the deed was recorded on August 25. Asgeirsdottir prior to the date the violation was noticed. Borkowski as a co-owner. 2009. and a notice thereof was sent to Mr. Affiants may be held responsible for the content of affidavits they sign in blank. Doujeiji was acting as agent for the owner. Doujeiji. Sharron Lewis. to run from March 29 until reaching $25. to be approved March 23. Page 2 of 5    . Borkowski at the property address. Mr. proof of that notice being provided by affidavit. She did not appear at the February 4 hearing. Asgeirsdottir to sign a Notice of Commencement in blank. Envelopes with notices were returned thereafter unclaimed. On January 13. However. service on him could be construed as service on her. whose general contractor’s license he worked under. as if the person filling in the blanks were their agent. and. Asgeirsdottir. In any event. indicating that both she and Ricardo D. The violation continued hence a complaint was filed in the code enforcement court. 2009. Doujeiji had induced Ms. And since a document signed by her indicated Mr. The permit application itself was not filed until February 29. an assistant city attorney has informed us that signing a blank permit application under penalties of perjury to be filled in later as needed is a perfectly proper procedure. Asgeirsdottir. clerk of the special magistrate court. 2010. one marked “Not (here) 1-1510. Borkowski notified the court that he did not even own the property for it had been sold to Ms. five days before the Notice of Violation was issued and fifteen days after the property was conveyed to Ms. Asgeirsdottir served on him could be construed as service on her. but this time he did not put Mr. addressee unknown. He filled in the blanks himself. had already detected the error and directed that the notice of the hearing be resent to the same address but with Ms. Mr. We do believe Mr. Borkowski’s name on the document as co-owner. if she did. We saw no evidence in the file such as an affidavit that constructive notice was given as per the Miami Beach Code: If both certified and first class mailings are returned. Flooring permit application B1001203 was also ostensibly signed on September 9. 2010. some of which were mailed to the owner at his business address. and then he had his significant other. the inspector found the interior walls and ceilings of the Continuum apartment being demolished without a permit. On January 26. We speculated that any notices appertaining to Ms.” This would be the case for later notices as well. Mr. The fine mounted to $25. then constructive notice can be given by publication by posting the notice on the property and at City Hall. 2010. whether she had appeared before the notary in person. if she did in fact sign them. The magistrate’s order was filed in the circuit court on May 17 at which time it became a lien on the property. and of course he had full knowledge of the notice of violation and later notices of hearings.000. her signature again notarized by Ms. Doujeiji is accustomed to having owners sign blank documents even under penalties of perjury. Incidentally. where a Special Master’s hearing was scheduled February 4. Asgeirsdottir signed documents. We are uncertain of the date Ms. Borkowski owned the unit. by Ms. and the blanks were filled in by Mr. Lewis.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    at that address on September 14. Cynthia Neves. Mr. where the Special Magistrate Joe Kaplan ordered a fine of $150 per day. notarize the document on September 9.

therefore. Lately.000 of new construction there before he was caught red handed. whose companion Sharron Lewis had passed away in March that year. that she had no idea there was a fine on the property.e. i. On April 10. that any such letter be executed under oath.” The owner’s representative stated that the owner lived out of the country hence did not receive mail appertaining to the case. what he does is what almost everybody does at one time or another. Doujeiji eventually completed the demolition. We have been asked to investigate instances of unpermitted construction and fine write-offs that would make his infractions a drop in the bucket. with unpaid permit fees of $30. Given his modus operandi. was informed that the amount of the fine would be deducted from his bill. He thought there should be no fine since he pulled the permit about 30 days after the citation. for the demolition of an imaginary bathroom and kitchen. but for a completely empty space. He looked at the photographs and noted that far more than a little demolition had occurred—in fact. Mr. the signature appearing radically different than her supposed signature on previous documents. he had better get rid of the lien if he wanted to be paid. More recently. his expeditor Orestes “Rusty” Innocenti helped him get a contractor to pull a permit at Sunset Harbour TS3. Doujeiji that we are unaware of. Ignorance is no excuse. paying permit fees of $11. the magistrate sitting in the case. The judge did not buy the purportedly specious arguments. then that would be a civil Page 3 of 5    .100. Doujeiji said he began construction without a permit.437. In 2012. Asgeirsdottir appeared August 11. He said the owner had the responsibility to know what is going on with her property. and he was appearing in hopes that the judge would help him. notwithstanding Miami Beach Code of Ordinances 30-76. he said. Mr. Mr. Doujeiji and an unnamed person representing Ms. before Babak Movahedi. If the contractor started the job without the owner’s consent. Doujeiji. we estimated the real value of the construction to be several times that. laid down the floor and proceeded to with a full a non-permitted build-out of the unit. 2011. which comprised three units conjoined. We single his jobs out merely as an example of what seems to be a general practice due to a lax and perhaps corrupt regulatory milieu. There are no doubt other unpermitted jobs completed by Mr. flooring and renovation of the fabulous apartment. including expenses. Asgeirsdottir and her husband Skuli Mogensen allegedly discovered the lien on her property when they proceeded to sell it in April 2011. and getting mail about the property is the owner’s problem. he has allegedly been renovating an office/apartment building in downtown Miami without permits and a general contractor’s license. basically because it “was not fair. Asgeirsdottir.000 or more. Ms.” without paying full permit fees if he can get away with it. and had only become aware of it a few weeks past. Doujeiji’s crew managed to complete nearly $500. Besides. at a total stated value of $123.000 fine. thinking he could get the permits right away. 2011. a request to “mediate the fine” was sent to the code enforcement court on Sharron Lewis’s personal letterhead. He completed a build-out in Suite 1801 at the Icon without pulling a permit at all. That letter was construed as request for mitigation and was honored. The letter was ostensibly signed by Ms. According to a recording of the event which we retrieved. the apartment was devastated.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    Mr. He said he was not presiding to help anyone but to find the facts and apply the law. only some drywall was removed as part of the demolition. and given the luxurious nature of the unit. “getting ahead of the job like everybody does. right under the noses of city and county inspectors. and asked him to mitigate the nearly $30. That is. he got a flooring contractor to pull a permit for Continuum 2602. in 2011. Mr.

We could not say upon what authority the City Attorney could dismiss a case decided by the code enforcement court short of appealing it to the circuit court as provided by state law and local ordinance. City Attorney Jose Smith referred us to a circuit court case.520. and the owner can sue the contractor. mitigation was denied. that is. Mr. Defective Notice Per Finance. An appeal to the circuit court was filed. In any event. if the original notice served on the former owner were controlling and the subsequent notices to the correct owner were irrelevant. we believed the settlement should have been documented with a thorough explanation and the case dismissed by the circuit court. T C. Attorney” (sic). Doujeiji or Ms. identified as a “Finance Dept. but that has nothing to do with responsibility for the fine.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    matter between the owner and the contractor.” City Attorney Jose Smith said when we questioned him on the matter. The city did not issue the violation against the actual violator who did the unpermitted work. to dismiss a case decided in its favor. We do not know if the Special Master would have granted mitigation or dismissal if that formal argument were made. But a city attorney would not appeal against the city’s interest. but we found no appeal actually filed with and disposed of by the circuit court itself. by what authority could an assistant city attorney or the City Attorney himself “dismiss” a special master’s case when the only statutory venue for appeal seemed to be the circuit court? And of course he would not appeal versus the city that he represents. we found nothing after that in Special Master File BV09001224 except an order from First Assistant City Attorney Steven Rothstein to “dismiss” the case. or good reasons why the fine was unfair or inequitable. “The original notice was defective. Rothstein did the only ethical. The city improperly tried to join the violator in the case without proper service. The subsequent owner paid a $2. If there were a settlement agreement contrary to the findings of fact and rulings of law by the special magistrate. the date a permit is approved does not matter: a fine runs until the work that cures the violation is finished. he said. Even if the notice were fatally defective. He filed a copy of a notice of appeal to the circuit court with the special master on August 29. perhaps the city attorney could have applied to the special magistrate for a rehearing of the matter. Asgeirsdottir to represent her. as we thought to be the case after reading the state statute and city code in respect to service of process. describing the matter as a routine code violation case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and service or process. We note that a formal motion to quash the order for the fine and waive the lien on grounds of defective notice pursuant to the pertinent Florida statutes and local ordinance was not made at the hearing by the persons appearing for Ms. along with copies of two checks totaling $2. In the alternative. Agreement.00 fine after the work was legalized. Smith’s reasoning appeared to be sound. was finally engaged Mr. Asgeirsdottir. Indeed. Harold Rosen.” At first glance. and so it ran. legal thing he could do. He kindly gave the explanation that was not on file: “The city issued the violation to a person who no longer owned the unit. Since the owner’s representatives offered no legal grounds for mitigation. Why could we find no record of the circuit court case? Why is not that record in the file? Perhaps he and the defendant’s attorney struck a deal before a petition was filed with the circuit court clerk. so no dismissal upon settlement was filed Page 4 of 5    . But there was no written record of that disposition so we remained somewhat skeptical. to wit: dismiss the case.500. Mr. we still wondered. 2011. an attorney.

## Page 5 of 5    . why did he not just say so in the first place? And if that kind of shortcut were routine. and if the procedures are somehow defective at all levels. is not the city attorney routinely responsible for advising everyone concerned what changes must be made in defective routines? We are standing by for answers to those questions at deadline. If that shortcut were taken. would it not arouse reasonable suspicion of unwarranted dealings behind the scenes? If this sort of defect in service of process is routine.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    there either.

interior design. designed the outstanding renovation. and Page 1 of 4    . Sharron Lewis’ bereaved husband. Jihad Doujeiji. An exemplary photograph of one of the completed rooms in Suite 1801 appears today on the main webpage of Sharron Lewis Design Central. who had been engaged by the late Sharron Lewis to carry on her Miami Style for the company. and make plenty of money for himself as well as a small fortune for a speculator on a single condominium remodeling project. (see above) The unit had been foreclosed on and thoroughly trashed when lead residential designer Elizabeth Calomiris.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    Sharron Lewis Miami Style staging by Elizabeth Calomiris for ICON Unit 1801 GETTING AHEAD OF THE JOB CON AT THE SOUTH BEACH ICON 3 July 2012 By David Arthur Walters THE MIAMI MIRROR Miami Beach Suite 1801 at the ICON at 450 Alton Road in South Beach offers a perfect example of how a general contractor can get and complete a construction project without a license or a permit. owner and sole manager of the furniture manufacturing.

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    construction operations. Of course Miami Beach Building Department inspectors who are around from time to time must also be managed or taken care of effectively. invalid. whose publicly listed members are the three brothers. interior design.000. Sigurdsson’s principal. and sold it on June 13. A fact that you may not like if you are public-spirited is that neither Gerald Jonas. Sharron Lewis of Sharron Lewis Design. had purchased the wrecked condominium from First Bank Puerto Rico on December 15. nor Audy Group LLC dba “Audy Construction. Doujeiji’s wife. if the current promotional rhetoric for the nation’s Ground Zero for the real estate condo collapse (Miami area) is accurate. Gerald Jonas. and estimated commissions of $ 170. arrived with his crew and worked Ms.000 for the construction. for $1. Jonas’ expenses for administration.000. Audy Group LLC billed the owner’s real estate agent—Bragi Sigurdsson.” nor any of its member including Jihad Doujeiji had a general contracting license. Or one may slip into the building presenting false. Calomiris’ wonders under the heading of one of his family’s cover firms. and Zeyad. Sharron Lewis Design Central billed about $87. Sigurdsson. there is a way to “take care of” building management. Audy Group LLC. then broker and part owner of Sigurdsson Schechter Luxury Real Estate. Doujeiji’s emotional distress and confusion during the ICON remodeling. Deducting $167. Doujeiji failed to notify the Contractor’s License Board of her death and continued to present himself qualified to contract under her license number. trustee for the federally qualified profit sharing plan of Jonas Builders.000.000. The point here is that.800.000 less Mr. An additional finder’s fee in merchandise may have been paid by the contractor directly to Mr. Mr. Mr. which are at least 90% occupied. Imad. for $3. Gerald Jonas. and remodeling. What’s not to like? We do not begrudge anyone their profits. 2011. But at this juncture we shall not stand on formalities given the fact of Mr. who fail to scrutinize them and call the insurance companies for verification of the type of coverage. The City of Miami Beach provided Page 2 of 4    . Instead. would leave the profitsharing plan a net of $1. 2010.400. namely Jihad. Such is the magic of good marketing. that is. perhaps out of the Money Truck—more on that elsewhere. now with prestigious Sotheby’s—nearly $80. Mr. or irrelevant certificates of insurance to building managers. a 40-story condominium complex with about 240 residences. Inc. the owner’s fiduciary. as is customary in these deals.000. leaving a gross profit of $1.263. we shall assume that his critically ill wife was supervising his construction activities. had one when the contract was signed in January 2011.000 for the furnishings. despite the fact that the owner/developer in charge. if any. a Wisconsin construction and real estate company. We seriously doubt whether Jihad Doujeiji and Gerald Jonas were the only persons who avoided permit fees at the ICON. according to Beatriz Dooley of the City of Miami Beach. the construction work on ICON 1801 was not permitted. is a seasoned Wisconsin contractor who should have known better. for a grand total of $167.600.000 for renovations. which was prior to her tragic death from cancer in March 2011 after a protracted painful illness. hopefully with the knowledge of the owner and the IRS. But how would the contractor and furniture company get into the building? Where there is a will..

and in some cases shiny flooring resembling linoleum. gossip is circulating all over town. had his permit fixer line up a flooring specialty contractor for Continuum Unit 2602 as 50 South Pointe Drive. There are a mere handful of minor violations noticed on that spreadsheet for the residences themselves. What is wanted is righteous administration. As we have seen in ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con at the Continuum’. for which a permit is rather easy to get. some claims have been made and complaints filed. Still. not in writing. We leave it to competent statisticians to estimate the extent of non-permitted renovations among the units that pulled flooring permits. for apparently he has made some people awfully sore. That sounds like grand larceny. Apparently this is one of those “everybody does it” violations. the scuttlebutt is that he is claiming that a nosy reporter is trying to keep him from making money. The truth must be told to bring that about. and then the Doujeiji crew laid down the floor that was permitted to the license contractor. Sharron Lewis Design staff refers all questions about permits. especially if you pay a permit fixer to get priority when time is of the essence. But Jihad in particular is not hated: evil is hated.000. We have had enough “prosecutorial discretion” in the name of liberty. no arrests have been made for defrauding the municipality of its dues and perhaps safety to boot. that they be treated fairly and rewarded according to their merits.000. construction. but went on to build out the rest of the unit without a permit. to the best of our knowledge. the “getting ahead of the job” violation for which one might get a “traffic ticket” if caught—the fact that there is an advertised double-permit fee for the unpermitted portion of the work is only a slight disincentive when millions of dollars in construction contracts are in the works.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    Miami Mirror with a history of building permits for the building. that all have unity in just laws. to extirpate evil is our jihad. Mr. Extrapolate that among the total new condominium units in Miami Beach and the total loss may approach $50. Mr. however.000. Page 3 of 4    . Doujeiji. The units were provided “builder-ready.000 in potential permit fees on that tower alone. The best of all possible worlds is desired for all. Now the most frequent addition or replacement is the flooring. Doujeiji has not responded to requests for a written or video explanation of his contracting exploits. Fees and penalties should be collected. We estimate that the City of Miami Beach lost up to $1. Wrongdoers should be reformed or punished. acting as an unlicensed general contractor. an enemy to be starved to death if possible? If we would not begrudge anyone their profits. At the ICON. licenses and the like to the manager. What is the other side of the story? Does anyone care? Is not the government fair game. or at least the greatest happiness of the greatest number. so what if the rich are getting richer at the government’s expense? The owner and his lawyer are not answering questions either. for discretion has established another tyranny of the arrogant who think they own the law. for he who ignores evil is good for nothing.” meaning the spaces had walls but were otherwise bare except for bathroom and kitchen fixtures. and he cannot understand why anyone would hate him that much. and roughly 50 permits for the renovations that most wealthy people and savvy real estate flippers would desire. Jihad Doujeiji. all of the quality that upscale buyers would rather get rid of in the renovation process. we count around 150 flooring permits. some of which could be secured if the building were professionally audited.

for example.000 in construction. ## Page 4 of 4    . or perhaps nothing at all is being done in hopes that nosy reporters will go away. collect double permit fees on some or all of the around $80. get the unpermitted work permitted or redone. permit fixer. Miami Beach officials are mute on the Icon as of this writing. where work had been ordered stopped because the enormous amount of construction completed did not match the work permitted. “follow the published procedure. the demolition of an imaginary bathroom/kitchen! That location will be address in ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con at Sunset Harbour.” An audit of the entire Icon building was recommended to quality control manager Linda Blanco. Perhaps an investigation is pending.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS    The Miami Mirror asked Building Department officials to look into the ICON situation on June 20. and owner as at 1800 Sunset Harbour TS3. We noted that our ICON example appertains to the same unlicensed contractor. and to advise what will be done about it.

his trusty permit fixer. then his crew went in. “Trusty Rusty. Most amazing of all. Doujeiji had his crew complete nearly a half-million dollars building out the space before we convinced the Building Department to conduct an investigation and issue a stop work order. Apparently enforcement during the building boom was far beyond the ability Page 1 of 7    . At Continuum 2602. He got away with not pulling a permit at all at Icon 1801. Mr. but is he a genius? Our investigation of the matter with scandal-rocked Building Department of the City of Miami Beach revealed that there exists a virtual honor system for permitting luxury condominium build-outs and renovations.’ Go in small and come out big. Doujeiji. catch me if you can. when exposed. laid down the floor and did a thorough nonpermitted renovation of the apartment.4 acres next to the Doujeiji property marked off for proposed $20 million high rise development GETTING AHEAD OF THE JOB CON AT 1601 NE 2ND AVE By David Arthur Walters Unlicensed general contractor Jihad Doujeiji dba Sharron Lewis Design Central had gotten ahead of every luxury condominium job we had investigated thus far on South Beach.” got him a license number to piggyback on at Sunset Harbour TS3.The 2. he had a licensed contractor pull a flooring permit. therefore we dubbed our investigative series the ‘Getting Ahead of The Job Con. and then had a permit pulled to demolish an imaginary kitchen and bathroom in a completely empty space. getting ahead of the job. How did he get away with it? The owners like the work he does. claimed that he was only doing what everybody does. the penalty is just a traffic ticket. where Mr.

where we discovered from public records that Mr. ft.000 each unit. Henry R. to Page 2 of 7    . Untold millions in dollars in permit fees were probably being evaded with an unknown increase in safety hazards.7 million. We estimated its market value to be around $5 million given grand development schemes for the neighborhood including a potential high rise development around the building.5 million in 2011. "The property. ZJ Audy Investments LLC. But never mind. were being completely made over. and poised for high rise residential and commercial development as the northeastern edge of the downtown area advances along the gentrification path to and thru the art district. We took our investigation of the exemplary South Beach contractor to the City of Miami. said that “small footprint” means that “you have a 40." A developer and real estate broker who left the Miami area during the boom. Doujeiji’s Sharron Lewis Design Central showroom. for the public feels no pain for what it does not yet know. The apartments. the stated value of the mortgage being $3. Imad.000 sq. According to the county’s website. said there had been continuous renovations ongoing in the building even after March 2011. Tenants complained about the noise. The crown jewel is their four-story apartment and office building at 1601 NE 2nd Avenue. As for the notion that the development’s front and back would have no bearing on value—don’t bet on it! This is why Carnap is not in the real estate speculation business. we learned. purchased in 2002 from Miami Milano Corporation for $1. listing his late wife. ft. Vice President of Jack Thomas Inc. City officials were mute to many of our questions and suggestions. as contractor. “has a very small footprint. Sharron Lewis. Doujeiji had filed an owner’s Notice of Commencement for construction at 1601 NE 2nd Avenue. No notice of death was given to the Florida Board of Contractors as required by law so that work permitted under her license might be legally completed. Her general contractor license was no longer valid due to her death in March 2011. is overpriced and is encumbered with a historical designation.4 million as of 4 November 2011.000 sq.” he said. although they appear to be exercising what they call due process behind the scenes. and at least one longtime tenant to the north of the internal courtyard had moved out due to the din. However. Sharron Lewis’ showroom on the first floor had been radically expanded after her death. including installation of new windows at an estimated cost of about $25. the latest expiration dates being in October 2011.and competence of city officials. building on about 11. who asked not to be named due to ongoing controversy. sitting on the advantageous corner of an otherwise vacant block of real estate near fine hotels. The Miami-Dade County Appraiser put the taxable value of the property. usually at night and on the weekends. Doujeiji and his brothers own several apartment buildings that provide them with a considerable currency flow despite numerous evictions due to the nature of tenancy in the respective locations.. Furthermore. has mortgaged it to the BPD Bank of New York. We'll see. the realtor involved in a potential $20 million sale of the 2. Block. holding the property for brothers Jihad. all permits issued for the renovation of the historic building are expired.” A search of the public records revealed that Mr. suggested our assessment was too enthusiastic. at nearly $2. of land. Occupants of the apartment building.4 acre property around the Doujeiji building. which houses Mr. There could be a list made of outparcels to big developments in Miami that held out in anticipation of price appreciation that wound up built around. and Zeyad.

include the adjacent rental space. and a kitchen area used by the company’s employees. in part inspired by his appreciation of appreciating real estate values and rising cash flow. has obviously done a great job renovating the building inside and out. Jihad Doujeiji. and also to build a memorial to his beloved wife. Page 3 of 7    . That necessitated the demolition of walls.

that he would have a more prosperous thriving business if he treated his employees well. Benitez said he dropped by that Friday afternoon before he went home for the weekend. It is clear all ready from our examination of the volume of business Mr. something many capitalists abhor but comply with. Yet we have more formal ways of doing things in America. The tipsters were correct: major construction took place that Saturday while the regulators were off duty. and saw nothing but two buckets—they were placed to reserve space for the dumpster. of which Miami is a part even though it has peculiarities alien to the norm. Benitez assured us that one day he would catch up with the alleged perpetrator of the violations alleged. not to mention other governmental impediments to getting ahead in United States. Mr. especially if they are sworn to. he was told. to dispose of construction debris from the renovation of a floor of apartments in the north section of the building. and Reinaldo Benitez. and otherwise abiding by the rules. the quality of his construction. which arrived after his departure. and proudly competes for the title of Most Corrupt City in America. For that some disciplining would be required. although the same thing might be accomplished without them at far less expense until the physical and moral structures collapse. with work such as painting kept inside and other work kept very quiet. late on Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning. and therefore he could make a coup. On June 22 he was informed that a large dumpster was going to be pulled up. his contacts with high end clients and their brokers. We contacted Carlos Ollet. According to observers who do not want to be identified for obvious reasons unless they are questioned by sworn law enforcement officers or commanded to speak by the authorities. Mr.What Mr. Doujeiji is doing. He said he could not schedule a team to inspect the premises until the following week. a contractor licensing investigator with the Enforcement Section. Mr. We can understand his distaste for government interference given his origin in Lebanon. and complied with the “stupid” rules to do things the right way instead of the stupid way. where he made a small fortune as a master plasterer. and that the debris was currently stacked behind the door on the south side of the building. for information about allegations of ongoing unlicensed and non-permitted construction at the site. Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources. Doujeiji’s crews perform the major work in the building on evenings and weekends because there is no enforcement during those hours. hired a savvy controller/general manager. we are preoccupied with the proper way of filling out legal forms. head compliance inspector for the City of Miami. Jihad’s brother Zeyad usually stands guard or is nearby whenever construction is in progress. and the relative freedom he must have enjoyed in Greece. Doujeiji does not appreciate are the licensing and permitting regulations. A dozen workmen were observed "crawling all over the place" inside and out. the talent of his furniture manufacturers and design staff. throwing studs and drywall out of the second and third floor windows onto the ground in the northeast area Page 4 of 7    . We were informed that there was some history of complaints and suspected violations. Extreme caution must be exercised during the daytime on weekdays. Evidently a great deal of construction activity was planned for the weekend. Nevertheless. This is not the typical behavior of folks who are licensed and have permits.

He said that some of the new windows were not permitted. Laborers were also carrying out garbage bags full or debris.” He said that plans would have to be compared to whatever existed. photos could not be taken because Zeyad was guarding the site and telescopic cameras were not available. Although we had previously informed him how windows newly installed on the north side of the Page 5 of 7    . carried “ant-like” and dumped into the huge dumpster brought in for the purpose. he said he had no cause to write a police report. He said he saw large garbage bags piled up in the 20’ foot dumpster. The police department was persuaded to send an officer out to ascertain if the crime of unlicensed contracting was possibly being committed. only to discover that none were on duty for the weekend. which was a difficult process. that all the doors were tried and were locked. No. including broken up drywall. out of the double doors on the 16th Street side of the building. A fire alarm company had been around for a day or two the previous week. The debris in the back was then picked up. Since he did not see anyone actually working. Mr. Although that door was always open during office hours until Mr. An effort was made in the late that afternoon to contact a City of Miami compliance officer or building inspector. and that the bin had been picked up and pulled away by Monday morning. and no new construction was evident except “a little in the showroom. He said his team had walked around the building. We were further informed that drywall was installed by a dozen men on Sunday. Doujeiji became aware of the investigations. none of the inspectors allegedly attempted to open it. but he worried that they had gotten through the back door of the showroom. which is being taken care of. He would soon announce to everyone within earshot that he recognized the inspectors because they were his friends. Police Officer Lopez reported from the scene at 6:47 PM. Hopefully a report could be made with enough information about the construction activity to enable the absent inspectors to get a warrant to inspect the inside of the apartments for unpermitted construction during the inspectors’ working hours. He said he did not go inside the building. Workmen were using chisels to smooth out stucco around newly installed windows. Mr. During the course of the team’s inspection. The fire inspector was identified from photographs as a famous fireman who had previously visited the building during construction and was allegedly amused by debris blocking an exit door in the back of the showroom. thus dashing hopes for enough official information to warrant a further investigation.of the building. and walked around the building. Benitez and his team of inspectors showed up on Tuesday. June 26. but he did not want to climb up on the “eight foot high bin” to see what was in the bags. and walked out. Another stack of drywall was clearly visible inside the front gate of the building. Doujeiji was observed circling the building. said there was nothing for him to look at. A fire inspector came into the office. A great deal of noise was being made by nailing inside of the apartments. perhaps adjusting the alarms due to the reconfigurations of the apartments. which leads to the apartment area. but that everything else was perfectly legal. allegedly laughed out loud. where the view of the debris and a stack of new drywall was partly occluded by a tree. Benitez asked if we had any photographs of the activity. Mr. He said that the crew was just leaving the site when he arrived.

and to follow the laws. Benitez may Page 6 of 7    . he grew hostile and again said no violations were found besides the little ones in the showroom. The clerk did not respond to our public record request and follow up. “Hey. if you come up with any hard evidence. He apparently has a habit of telling everyone within earshot of his business: he allegedly complained that his “friends at the city” asked him what he had done to make a reporter “mad enough to call them again and again and day every day. that there was no report because no violations at all had been found. Doujeiji to come clean.)” We suggested he check the video surveillance tapes of a nearby building. Doujeiji allegedly said that he had to deliver them to the city by the next day. who is no longer with the company. when we asked him for a copy of his team’s report. We invited Mr. Our experience with a subsequent inspection by Miami Dade County’s licensing inspectors gave us cause to balance our negative evaluation of the city inspectors with the possibility that they had simply been outsmarted. to report faithless inspectors. saying. A member of Sharron Lewis’ staff.building were blacked out with white canvass to conceal construction inside the apartments. The fire inspector may have forgotten to scowl so as not to be deemed friendly to violators. Or perhaps Sharron Lewis’ spirit is guarding the site. However. and Mr. because Mr.” When we called Mr. Neither Mr. according to some kind of official list.” and “there are no new windows. he said. Benitez nor the fire inspector responded to the opportunity we afforded to rebut our assessment that the team inspection was staged or rigged so that no violations would be found. after having previously referring us to an information clerk. Benitez asked again if we had any photographic evidence of violations. please do not hesitate to send it (images speak thousands of words. he said “then windows are permitted. Benitez on June 29.” On Wednesday June 27 Mr. was allegedly ordered to take measurements and make drawings of the completed construction in the showroom. He would have taken plenty of photos himself if only had been present on the weekend after being alerted to the impending activity.

The county licensing inspection unit. It was too far of a stretch to imagine that the brothers constitute a criminal organization that has managed to pervert both Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami. Yet an unlicensed contractor can do business with some of the wealthiest home owners in the world with impunity. He said thirty new windows stacked in the hall in back had been removed from an apartment upstairs so that it could be painted. for example. At 2:35pm. Page 7 of 7    . the county’s contractor licensing investigators decided to inspect the site for unlicensed activity on July 27. We told Mr. Jose Lezcano. but there was no construction going on at the time because Zeyad must have been alerted “somehow” to the inspection. however. After all. Lezcano pointed out that he had only six men to cover the whole county. and went on to another job. which he termed “reverse” enforcement. Inspector Carlos Ollet soon informed us that the inspectors had walked the halls on all floors of the building and had found no evidence of alleged violations. mostly unsworn. The public will be none too pleased.have been irritated by someone other than his boss looking over his shoulder and secondguessing him. We speculated that the painters had showed up early in the morning. Mr. how he was sat down in handcuffs to cry and wonder how he was going to feed his wife in kids. A painter showed up in the courtyard of the building earlier that morning. Doujeiji for unlicensed contracting by having undercover agents pose as an owner and realtor. and handing her a business card. and that there were no funds now for what I called proactive enforcement involving the participation of the police. is it not? Violations are probably running rife all over town because enforcement forces are understaffed. were seen by tenants going around the building earlier. inviting him to a vacant penthouse condominium to bid on a contract. and were noticed in front of the building addressing a blonde woman who works in the showroom. Ollet’s supervisor. finished painting by noon. to know that he and a legion of like-minded contractors have cheated their government out of millions of dollars of permit fees. government interference in the economy is an evil thing. Affluent owners seem satisfied with this contractor’s performance thus far. An earlier conversation with him led us to opine that they were by no means the only crafty dodgers around given the fact that it is human nature to take what you can get away with in a competitive society. affirmed that no construction activity had been seen. returned the windows to the apartment where they were stored. Each agency including the state has only a handful of enforcement officers. Lezcano that it would be an easy matter to sting Mr. The State Department of Business and Profession Regulation bragged how it stung some poor slob upstate after he answered an ad. Mr. It is easier to believe the brothers are crafty-dodgers who have had great luck outsmarting the inspectors. or to just approach him in his office. explaining that normal enforcement involved complaints from owners who had been harmed by contractors. that funds had been cut. where he broadcasts that he is a contractor. As fate would have it. has only six men to cover the whole county. two men and one woman. Three inspectors. We had someone check to see if the windows were still stacked up in the back—they had been removed. an observer said he saw three inspectors arrive. maybe by the marked county car when it pulled up.

and had him sign. Mr.” obtaining a permit from the City of Miami Beach may take two Page 1 of 4    . which is a standard procedure declared to be appropriate by City of Miami Beach Assistant City Attorney Rhonda Montoya Hasan. Doujeiji then had a permit fixer or “expeditor” line up a licensed specialty flooring contractor to sign the application on August 29. condominium 2602 at the famous South Beach Continuum at 50 South Pointe Drive. Doujeiji presented himself as a general contractor to the owner. Absent the help of a permit fixer or “expeditor. It is believed that the flooring contractor did not lay or supervise the laying of the floor. That is what unlicensed general contractor Jihad Doujeiji dba Sharron Lewis Design Central did in 3. a blank permit application on June 22. contracted to renovate the apartment. 2011.000 sq. 2012 David Arthur Walters The Miami Mirror The scheme is simple: go in small and come out big. and that his end of the deal was supplying the materials. under penalties of perjury. ft.Typical Sharron Lewis Miami Style by Elizabeth Calomiris GETTING AHEAD OF THE JOB CON AT THE CONTINUUM July 2. 2011. Mr. in effect affirming nothing at all.

Jorge Hernandez. he is spiritually inclined. His furniture factory and office workers. in effect legalizing Mr. Difficulties with the English language is not be an impediment for obtaining a contracting license in Florida since the exam can be taken orally. The billing date for the flooring. which provide their enterprises with a considerable flow of hard currency. Furnishings were additional. the second offense being a felony. the civil remedy usually being pursued. owns with his brothers nearly 200 apartments in the Miami area. completed in 2011. as is the tradition in Miami-Dade County. they married about a year before her death. and even better played. They were involved in the design and construction of South Beach restaurants. on the other hand.or more months. Mr. He failed to notify the Contractors Licensing Board of his wife’s death. and other talented staff. She had obtained a general contracting license for herself and Sharron Lewis Design Central.100. Jihad Doujeiji was husband to the late Sharron Lewis. Sharron Lewis Design Central.” An anonymous complaint was filed against him for unlicensed contracting. the main complaint from owners being over scheduling and pricing. In fact. He is obviously qualified by his experience. The total value of the flooring work stated to the City of Miami Beach was only $20. The permit fixer filed the application on August 30 and it was approved that day. and continued to present himself as “Jihad Doujeiji. Although practicing construction without a license can be a crime in Florida. but few if any troubles with property owners.. beside Ms. curtailed by long years of concrete thinking on construction jobs. she hired residential interior designer and artist Elizabeth Calomiris. Lewis’ longtime designer and buyer. to carry on her design work at Sharron Lewis Design Central. an interior designer and furniture manufacturer famed for her ‘Miami Style’. have complained about his management style and methods of payment. and for doing excellent work. Construction Division. Doujeiji’s contracting activities since he then worked under her supervision. he is known for hiring talented construction workers. Lic# CGC 1507095. may be problematic to an old hand. and the Labor Department was successful in one suit against him. but the ability to think abstractly.” What is a thousanddollar or even a ten-thousand-dollar fine compared to millions in revenue? But the absence of a license is really beside the point here: the Getting Ahead of the Job Con can be successfully played. was subsequently changed to March 1. Shortly before her death from cancer in March 2011. Companions for nearly ten years. a native of Lebanon who ventured to Greece and made his fortune in the drywall business before immigrating to the United States.000 deposit was made in July 2011 to Sharron Lewis Design for the flooring work only. The actual value of all construction including the flooring was $250. D. formerly of Washington. which is perhaps how they met. although they will still Page 2 of 4    .000. allegedly for revenue recognition purposes. for which he was cited. that sort of prosecution is very rare indeed. He has had several encounters with regulators involving his construction activities. the consequence being a small fine referred to as a “traffic ticket. 2012. yet he continued as before. perhaps to delay the payment of taxes. Doujeiji. by licensed contractors. yet an $80. many of them illegal aliens. and allegedly believes that his late wife’s spirit if not her license is watching over him.C. located in downtown Miami.

as we shall show elsewhere. I was just getting ahead of the job. What a deal! One might be arrested for criminal fraud in other fields of endeavor. All of the new luxury condominiums. and that might be waived by your friends at the Building Department. The permit is currently expired awaiting a final inspection. officials at the building department. “Look. that the owners of 50 South Pointe Drive be contacted to identify the de facto general contractor they were dealing with and to ascertain the scope of the work actually done. Gonzalez knew when the work was suspend or abandoned. but construction is a world of its own: “It’s the culture. However. For example. Inasmuch as blank permit applications are Page 3 of 4    . perhaps with the help of your friendly expeditor. people with the means to inhabit them do not want to live on carpets on concrete floors or on crappy floor covering provided by builders who know upscale people like to do their own flooring.have to pay high fees to permit fixers to get preferential treatment from city officials: the major Miami Beach expeditor is known as Permit Doctors. Get one of those to get your foot in the door. Operations Manager of the Building Department. on April 30. that no inspection is warranted when a permit was expired: “The permit expired on April 29. a facility that is a virtually an annex of the Building Department. much of that due to the negligence and incompetence of the city government including the city manager. “The permit was applied for on 8/30/2011 and approved on the same day. subsequently said.. which maintains an office on city property next to City Hall. If tagged. and then rapidly build out the empty space. for they will be looking at the floor.” The Miami Mirror has reason to believe and intends to argue from statistics that the City of Miami Beach failed to collect millions of dollars in permit fees during the building boom. as advertised by official publicity. Doujeiji has reasons to prefer Orestes “Rusty” Innocenti aka Rusty At The Copy Shop. 2012 as per the Florida Building Code which states ‘Every permit issued shall become invalid unless the work authorized by such permit is commenced within six months after its issuance.” God only knows how Mr. So the most common permit pulled in a condominium tower is the flooring permit. a thorough “staging” according to the design of people like Sharron Lewis and Elizabeth Calomiris can net you an additional million dollars in short order. stupid. Mr.” But his boss. although “builder-ready” could use some work. The latter received a Final Inspection approval on 10/06/2011. The Miami Mirror suggested to Antonio Gonzalez. or if the work authorized by such permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of six months after the time the work is commenced. because it may have been ongoing when he issued his pragma. saving the permit fees for the additional work. He advised on April 11 that. no inspections may be scheduled. And if you are a speculator.” the only consequence for the attempted grand theft of permit fees that the city is entitled to. and the city commission. A sub-permit (BP111937) was secured to remove and reinstall a toilet and allow the flooring installation. will be a double-permit fee on the additional work. the city attorney. just say. Not to mention corruption. Director Stephen Scott.’ Since there is no longer an active permit. everybody does it. work that the inspectors may not notice if the inspectors are managed properly.

without a general contracting license. who are fully aware of his activities by now.—it appears that permitting in the City of Miami Beach is done on a honor basis. and plans are approved on their face value. and municipal authorities. county. But that would have been an unethical thing to do. right under the noses of state. because unlicensed contractors do not have to be paid and cannot place liens. inasmuch as inspectors have to be called in to make an inspection. inasmuch as no certificates of completion are required. Doujeiji has contracted other jobs. Interestingly. they might have saved themselves tens of thousands of dollars.sworn to and filled in as needed. with the help of his permit fixer. The Miami Mirror shall soon show how Mr. and other examples of the Getting Ahead of The Job Con will also be exposed. It would be far simpler and less expensive then to just sell permits at the permit window and trust people to do the right thing. if the City officials had bothered to contact the owners when first asked to confirm the information the Miami Mirror had obtained from the public records. and is continuing to contract. unless there were some costs associated with the conduct that could be deducted from any balance due. ## Page 4 of 4    .