For the second time this week, we've found evidence that a state legislator out of Broward County doesn't live in the district he represents and has been playing a thinly veiled hoax on the public in the process.
This time, we're not talking about House Pro Tem Joe Gibbons, who doesn't live in Hallandale Beach, but his colleague Jim Waldman, who clearly doesn't live in the home he has claimed to be living in for several years.
And why would Waldman live there? He has claimed he's renting one of two bedrooms in a little 920-square-foot condo in Coconut Creek owned by Ron Sherman.
Why would a millionaire businessman with a fiancée and a beautiful home on property valued at $780,000 live in a little room in a condo with another dude?
Sounds like the making of a sitcom, and it is certainly a fiction created by Waldman to uphold a little thing called the Florida Constitution, which demands that lawmakers live in the districts they represent, and his own oath of office.
Recent homestead fraud investigations conducted by the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office supplied ample evidence that Waldman's story is indeed hogwash. As a result of the investigation, Waldman is apparently now homeless in the area he represents.
Faced with losing part of his homestead exemption, Waldman's roomie, Sherman, submitted a signed statement to the appraiser's office on July 1 declaring that he is not leasing any part of his condo to anyone -- including Waldman -- and has no plans to do so in the future.
That means poor Jim has no home in his district. I left a message for Waldman in hopes of hearing about his harrowing plight from well-off businessman and political big shot to homeless man, but he hasn't called back.
Inside, read about how Waldman has somehow slid through while his faux-roommate, Sherman, has been whacked by the government.
When an Appraiser's Office investigator staked out Waldman's home at 4000 NW 74th St. on June 9, he noticed an SUV in the driveway that was registered to Waldman's fiancée, Angela Saporito.
That's not surprising, since Saporito lists the same home as her permanent address on her driver's license and vehicle registration. The following night, the investigator noticed a BMW. It was owned by Waldman's mother, Ethel.
So apparently Waldman's fiancée lives in his home and his mother visits, but the legislator insisted to investigators that he lived in the Sherman residence.
Where Waldman was on those two nights isn't known, but you can bet he wasn't sitting in a back room in Sherman's little condo at 4509 Carambola Circle. The condo, where Waldman has claimed to reside for the past four years, is little more than a mail drop.
After his divorce with lobbyist Ali Waldman in 2000, Jim Waldman kept the 74th Street home while his ex-wife held onto another marital property. The legislator, then a Coconut Creek commissioner, lived on 74th Street in earnest until he decided to run for the state Legislature in a neighboring district in 2006.
That's when he began claiming that he resided in Sherman's room at a cost of $250 a month.
Yet Waldman kept his homestead tax exemption on the 74th Street home the entire time. Why? He claimed to investigators that his two grown children lived in the home.
The Appraiser's Office determined that his 22-year-old daughter lived not in Waldman's house but in his ex-wife Ali Waldman's house. But they determined there was enough evidence to support the idea that his 20-year-old son lived in the home, despite contradictory information, including the fact that the son has listed Ali Waldman's home as his address on his driver's license and numerous other documents. The son also listed his address in Gainesville in 2009.
In the end, the Property Appraiser's Office allowed Jim Waldman to keep his homestead exemption. His friend and fake roomie, Ron Sherman, wasn't so lucky.
Based on Waldman's statement, the appraiser stripped Sherman of half of his exemption and slapped him with a back tax bill of $3,315.07.
Ah, it's always the little guy that ends up paying. Or not. Sherman hasn't paid the bill, and the appraiser has put a lien on the property. I tried contacting Sherman, but his listed number has been disconnected.
Some might ask what's the big deal. It's just a district residence after all. Perhaps, but if someone is willing to engage in such obvious subterfuge and deception over something as basic as where they live, what else will that person do? Integrity means something, or should, not only in life but in politics. And this tale, if anything, seems to teach us that if you trust Jim Waldman, you do so at your own risk.