Coral Gables candidate Jorge Fors had illegal Homestead exemption

Coral Gables candidate Jorge Fors had illegal Homestead exemption
  • Sumo

Records indicate that Coral Gables commission candidate and attorney Jorge L. Fors has committed Homestead exemption fraud for several years.

Fors owns a condo in Little Havana, unit 205 at 1039 SW 5th Street, where he has paid taxes, claiming a Homestead exemption since at least 2010, the furthest that the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s office posts records online. That includes 2013, 2015 and 2017, three years in which Fors voted in the Coral Gables elections, according to records from the Miami-Dade Elections Department. He also voted with his Coral Gables address for every primary and general election since 2012.

How could he live in both places at once? He can’t. He didn’t, he admits.

“I lived there a few times,” Fors said about the 2/2 condo he bought in 2007 for $114,000. “It’s a property I originally bought with the idea of making an investment. I lived there right before law school and right after law school.”

He hasn’t lived there since at least 2011 — and he never registered to vote there — but Fors kept the exemption, which gave him a $25,000 break on property taxes every year. Even though, he admitted, he rented it out a few times.

“I was going to move back in,” Fors said. “That area has gotten nice lately, but it was a bad neighborhood when I bought it. I intended to live there. You are allowed to have a Homestead if you intend to reside at that place.”

Um, no, says Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia.

“That’s illegal,” Garcia told Political Cortadito.

“He has to live in that property. If he moves to another place, he cannot keep the Homestead exemption there. I don’t care if he moved to his father’s house, he is not supposed to have a Homestead exemption,” Garcia said, adding that it doesn’t matter whether the apartment sits empty or is rented out.

“If he doesn’t live there, he doesn’t deserve a Homestead and he is committing Homestead fraud,” Garcia said, adding that his office would investigate, looking at the voting records himself.

“I always vote where I live,” Fors told Ladra.

Which means he either knew he was getting away with fraud or he is an attorney and former president of the Coral Gables Bar Association who doesn’t know the law.

Fors’ voter registration history with the Miami-Dade Elections Department shows he first registered to vote in 2003 at the age of 20 at his parents house on Country Club Prado. In 2005, he registered in another county. That’s probably because he was at the University of Florida in Gainesville getting his Bachelor’s degree in political science.

When he returned in 2008, he registered at Country Club Prado again, until last April, when he registered at his new home on Segovia Street.

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Records also show Fors — who faces former Commissioner Ralph Cabrera and onetime Interim City Manager Carmen Olazabal in the April election for the seat vacated by Commissioner Frank Quesada — bought his home on Segovia Avenue in mid March of 2018, which would be just a couple of weeks over the required year of residency needed in Coral Gables to run.

He also lived for a little more than a year in an apartment at 322 Madeira Ave., right after he was married. Neighbors told Ladra the couple often fought. The unit is owned by his parents and Fors’ mother sits on the homeowner board, the neighbors said, adding that the building was in “shambles.”

Fors was never registered to vote there either.

And his mother apparently knows better than to claim a Homestead exemption on the unit.

 

 

13 Responses to "Coral Gables candidate Jorge Fors had illegal Homestead exemption"

  1. Residency requirements   February 26, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Doesn’t this homestead exemption demonstrate that Fors’ is a permanent residence of the city of Miami and not Coral Gables?

    Let’s ask a judge!

  2. TellingItLikeIs   February 26, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Looks like it’s become a two-person race.

  3. Rachel Lauzurique   February 26, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Reason why I am voting for Ralph Cabrera. Integrity,honesty, proven leadership and experience. Mr Fors should be disqualified from the election.

  4. No Fan   February 26, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Hardly a Daphne Campbellest scam
    And the city of Coral Gables is the beneficiary of his mistake.

    Because he has not homesteaded Segovia Street the city of Coral Gables is receiving the maximum tax revenue from this property. Once he homesteads it and applies portability the taxes could be cut in half and will be protected from appreciation

    But I have a real problem with homestead exemption anyway Everybody should get their one exemption and apply it however they see fit. There are a lot of challenges to local tax appraiser rulings state wide and homeowners almost always win their challenge (but only at the level of state courts).

    Maybe that’s an issue Homestead and portability should benefit the property owner not the municipality.

    • Ladra   February 26, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      Wrong, actually, Mr. Fan.

      Mr. Fors enjoyed a Homestead exemption on BOTH properties last year, because he inherited the Homestead on the Segovia house, which he bought in March after the Homestead exemption was already applied for and approved. So he got the benefit twice. Pedro Garcia says this is normal but it looks like a loophole that loses lots of city revenue to me.

      This year, he did take the Homestead exemption off the 5th Street condo, because he knows what the law is.

      Love, Ladra

  5. Debbie R   February 27, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Ladra
    One item you did not point out relating to the tax bills and homestead exemption for years prior to 2018, is that Mr.Fors, Jr. cleared all homestead issues and homestead penalty bills were issued and paid on January 17, 2019. So all years back to at least 2009 the homestead has been removed. This part should have been in your article but was not. I am sure this issue will be asked of Mr. Fors, Jr. and will be answered.
    I am not defending Mr. Fors, Jr. since I am not sure who I am voting for at this point and will wait for the debates.

    • Ladra   February 27, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out, Debbie. Ladra didn’t even know you could see the full bill history. That is very illuminating, indeed. But the only thing it proves is that Mr. Fors caught wind that I was looking into his past residences and decided to pay his back taxes and the Homestead penalty.

      It’s no coincidence that Mr. Fors paid everything on Jan. 17, back taxes, interest and penalty for 2010-2017 (does he still owe for 2018?), for a total of $13,178.37. All of a sudden he had an urgent need to pay all that because he is running for office and he knew it would come up.

      It’s strange he didn’t mention it when we spoke on Monday. He stuck by the defense that he was allowed to have a Homestead exemption at the Little Havana condo even if he didn’t live there because he didn’t have one someplace else. If he believed that, why did he pay the penalty? And if he paid the penalty, why didn’t he just say so?

      Well, because that would be admitting to being a scoundrel who tried to get away with stealing $13.178.37 from taxpayers. If he hadn’t run for office, Ladra bets he’d still be doing it.

      But, again, thanks for pointing that out to me. I’ll do more digging with the Property Appraiser Thursday to see how that payment came about.

      Love, Ladra

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  7. Jose   March 8, 2019 at 2:43 am

    No Fan,
    The state of Florida is stuck in the 60s , 70’s perhaps we can go up to 80s when it comes to certain laws and the homestead exemption is one of them.

    It is one of the most loop hole , abused tax exemptions going . My neighbor here in Doral recently retired and went to look at houses in Broward , all the neighbors have a couple of livestock think he said goats in order to get the homestead exemption.

    He is finally bought a house in Naples , no HOA , no gated community which is what those of us who finally flee the gated community will seek , lol .

  8. Jay   March 10, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    I’m not voting for Fors, but the business about family fighting was really unnecessary. It should be removed.

  9. Maria C Cruz   March 11, 2019 at 9:57 am

    The main issue, as far as I am concerned, is how he was registered to vote in the Gables when his legal residence was not there.
    Any time he had a homestead exemption somewhere else, he was not residing in Coral Gables and thus committed fraud when he didn’t change his voter’s registration and VOTED in the wrong municipal election.

  10. Pingback: Coral Gables candidate Jorge Fors stirs annexation fears for votes – Political Cortadito

  11. Jack Thompson   March 20, 2019 at 10:25 am

    John B. Thompson, J.D., M.A.
    5721 Riviera Drive
    Coral Gables, Florida 33146
    305-666-4366, cell 305-588-3005
    amendmentone@comcast.net

    March 20, 2019

    Michelle R. Suskauer
    Florida Bar President
    515 N. Flagler Dr., Suite P300
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33401-4326 Via email to michelle@dkrpa.com

    Adria E. Quintela, Director of Lawyer Regulation
    The Florida Bar
    1300 Concord Terrace, Suite 130
    Sunrise, Florida 33323 and Via email to aquintel@floridabar.org

    Re: Sworn Bar Complaint against Florida Bar Member Jorge R. Fors, Bar #93575

    Greetings:

    This constitutes a formal Florida Bar complaint against the above attorney based upon the following news report by highly-regarded former Miami Herald reporter Elaine De Valle:
    http://www.politicalcortadito.com/2019/02/25/coral-gables-candidate-jorge-fors-illegally-claims-homestead-exemption/

    As you can see, it appears that attorney Fors may have engaged in certain illegal activity regarding homestead exemptions. The Bar, as you know, has disciplinary jurisdiction over such alleged shenanigans, even though they were not committed in the practice of law, because, if true, they reflect poorly on his reputation and thus upon the entire profession. You can contact Ms. De Valle for more details at edevalle@gmail.com.

    I am also forwarding this complaint to Coral Gables officials who should do whatever is proper regarding possible removal of Mr. Fors from the ballot before the April election.

    I hereby certify under penalty of perjury that the foregoing facts, as they are reported in the above referenced media entity, are true, correct, and complete, to the best of my knowledge and in good faith, so help me God.

    Signed, by John B. Thompson

    Copy: The Miami Herald and Ms. DeValle and Coral Gables officials