Thursday, December 31, 2009

We did the crime, learned about the cop who busted us, now what? Also a holiday gift for Roger Besu.

Here we are at the end of the year folks, nearly six months of writing about our story and still no conclusion.  Earlier in the week we got a chance to meet the man who alleges his identity was stolen for the purpose of the mortgage fraud that's that we've been writing about then yesterday we summed up what we know about the lead detective that made the case and today we'll see how the story was covered in the media.
  1. The arrests in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage case went down on Friday October 3, 2008, we previously discussed how unprofessional the conduct of the lead detective and the State Attorneys Office was regarding the way the arrests went down on several occasions.  We also got the opinion of a Judge on another high profile case regarding white collar crimes and "SURRENDER".  Tisk, Tisk. 
  2. On October 7, 2008 a poorly written article appears in the Miami Herald regarding the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud arrests that seems to be based on an even more poorly written press release.  I wonder where that press release came from, was it from Detective Baluja?  Did it come from the MDPD Economic Crimes Department?  Or did it come from the State Attorneys Office?
  3. Upon further investigation we learn that the Miami Herald article doesn't make sense or even add up correctly.  HUH?
  4. The media goes quiet on this story, yet our blog is written about on several other internet blogs and on the New Times, once regarding Detective Baluja and a second time regarding Assistant State Attorney Kostrzewski. 
That's it folks, hopefully this week we've delivered a quick summary of the last six months worth of mess making the story and the time line a little easier to decipher.  With that said, let's turn to the story of Attorney Roger Besu, you remember, the disgraced attorney who stands accused of stealing millions of dollars from his clients monies deposited in his law firms trust account.   Originally the state came down pretty hard on Mr. Besu, when he was first arrested they demanded $5 million dollars in bail to let him out of jail and wanted him to surrender his passport!  I guess after some coaxing they decided that perhaps they were a bit harsh and let him go on $50,000 in cash and if I'm reading the docket correctly they let him keep his passport as well.  From what I'm able to glean from the case file, he's been kept on house arrest, that is until a couple of weeks ago, take a look at this snippet from the docket...

The court agreed to let him leave the house and GO TO CHURCH!  For my Besu fans out there, HAVE A HEART!  I wonder how often Mr. Besu goes to church?  I for one would go for at least 20 hours a day to get me out of the damn house!

That brings our blog to a close for 2009, considering all that we've learned during the last six months let's go and enjoy some New Years Eve festivities!  I'll begin with the Straw Buyer fireworks display...

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's say hello to the lead detective in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case, Detective Jorge Baluja...

We've summed up some of the pertinent facts of our story over the last two days, first we discussed the man who claimed his identity was stolen for the fraud that's at the center of our blog, then we breifly discussed real estate / mortgage fraud as it applies to our story.  Keeping with the theme of summing up our story during the holiday break, let's now move on to the lead detective in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case, Detective Jorge Baluja.
  1. We're introduced to Detective Baluja through a botched accident investigation earlier in his career through this fantastic article written by Matt Meltzer from
  2. We go on to learn that perhaps Detective Baluja really didn't pay any attention to Bernardo Barrera's claims of identity theft and how he learned of his identity being misused by the fraudsters.
  3. Now we've learned that Detective Baluja has found out about the article about him and HE'S PISSED OFF!  Sorry Jorge!!
  4. We're told that Detective Baluja had been taken off the Mortgage Fraud task force and sent back to Auto Theft just a couple of weeks after he made the arrests in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case.  Interesting for a lead detective in a headline case to be moved out of his unit into another after bringing in the case?
  5. We've learned that the Detective may be a little preoccupied while at the office, if true it sounds like a terrific waste of taxpayers money!
  6. There seems to be some issues with how the Detective handles a witness... 
  7. UH OH!  Now we find that the former ace detective in the mayors heralded Mortgage Fraud Task Force can't even execute his own mortgage correctly!  WHOOPSIE!  The New Times picks up our story!  
  8. For what ever reason, it looks like the Detective is trying to duck going to depositions...
  9. Does the good detective know where his own office is?  NO!
  10. It seems as if we've established a pattern of behavior for the good detective...
  11. Does Detective Jorge Baluja understand the most fundemental aspects of Real Estate?  NO!  OK, does he know what Mortgage Fraud is?  What do you think?  HELL NO!
  12. Calling into question Detective Baluja's investigatory skills and or his eyesight. 
  13. No, we're not filming a retarded episode of the tv show COP's, but let's have a high speed car chase anyway! 
  14. Follow my lead, NOW LIE DAMN IT!  While you're at it, say it the way I want BITCH! 
  15. The good Detective draws a blank, HE JUST DOESN'T RECALL! 
  16. Let's have the Detective tell us what Identity Theft is.  WHOOPS!
  17. Now a great online resource to any defense attorney working a case that Detective Baluja has worked on...
  18. Last but not least, how does the MDPD reward the type of incompetence that's evidenced by Detective Baluja's police work?  THEY GIVE HIM A COMMENDATION!

So there you have it folks, Detective Jorge Baluja in a nutshell!  Hopefully for those of you flying over the holidays, you won't be taking AIR BALUJA!

Once again we find ourselves with another key player in this case that we would love to see perform on the stand!  Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let's do some fraud!

Before we begin though, for those readers who are unfamiliar with how the blog works, when you see text that is highlighted in a different color and is underlined, click on it.  These are links that lead you to other blog entries or other websites.

So we're going to commit some real estate / mortgage fraud, where do we start? 
  1. First off, what is mortgage fraud?  Let's have Detective Jorge Baluja explain what he thinks it is
  2. What if we had a step by step pictoral guide on how to commit mortgage fraud to guide us along?
  3. Who better to lead us through our real estate / mortgage fraud adventure than an former appraiser thats had his licensing authority taken away by the Florida Department of Professional Regulation?  Who would that be?
  4. Now that we know what mortgage fraud is (according to Detective Baluja), we've been given instructions on how to commit the fraud, we've got a crooked appraiser on board, where are we going to find a house worthy of our endeavor?  Why not go to Coconut Grove!  The Grove is a cornocopia of homes suitable for FRAUD!  
  5. ALRIGHTY THEN!  We've located the homes to use in our real estate / mortgage fraud quest, now we need a cooperating attorney, title company or closing agent!  We've seen how cooperative the folks at Red Door Title Agency  and Nouvelle Title Services were in these other transactions, where can we find someone to help us with our scam?  Based on the arrests in the Bernado Barrera mortgage fraud case and according to Detective Baluja and Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski it looks like we've found a worthy partner in attorney Delaila Estefano.
  6. Now that we have almost all the pieces of the puzzle in place, we need to locate a home suitable for our fraud.  BINGO WE'RE IN LUCK!  
  7. We're almost there now, we got everyone in place except the STRAW BUYER!  No worries, we got that covered as well!  Looks like we've found someone practiced in the art of deception not to mention someone that's no stranger to mortgage fraud!
  8. RIGHT ON!  Everyone is in place, LET'S GET PAID!  

Nice days work!  Till tomorrow folks!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The man who claims he's the "victim" of identity theft, Bernardo Barrera.

As I mentioned last week, during the holiday break we're going to summarize the pertinent facts of the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case. What better way to start than taking another look at the man who claims his identity was stolen, Bernardo Barrera?
  1. Let's begin by illustrating a previous mortgage fraud that Mr. Barrera had committed. If Detective Baluja would have checked into this prior fraud that Mr. Barrera had been involved in, perhaps he would have looked at the case a bit differently.
  2. Moving along, we then learn that Mr. Barrera diligently monitors his credit history through the use of several different credit monitoring services. Although he monitors his credit history he forgets to mention the activity on his credit before the closing of the Oak Avenue home, he only mentions that he was alerted to the new loan on his credit report 30 days after the closing. Bizarre as any activity is noted on your credit report literally instantaneously.
  3. WHOOPSIE!! We now learn that Mr. Barrera just a few months before he claimed his identity was stolen for the purchase of the Oak Avenue home HAD HIS IDENTITY STOLEN IN ANOTHER FRAUDULENT TRANSACTION! UH OH! This timing of when the police report was given for this transaction is HIGHLY SUSPECT. If Detective Baluja would have compared the dates of this identity theft and the Oak Avenue transaction, I think he would have been highly surprised, not to mention all sorts of red flags should have gone up if he would have taken a look at the activity on Mr. Barrera's credit around this time.
  4. We go on to learn that Mr. Barrera opens up a corporation with a rather strange name and an address that leads to an empty lot. Why would you do such a thing? It's got to be a real pain in the ass trying to conduct business out of a dirt lot! Suspicious to say the least.
  5. We're now introduced to the foreclosure case that arose out of the fraudulent purchase of the Oak Avenue home and then get an opinion from one of the lawyers involved in the foreclosure case regarding Mr. Barrera's involvement in the fraud. Amazing how easily evident his involvement is to this attorney, yet no one at the PD or the SAO can draw the same conclusion.
  6. In case there was any doubt of Mr. Barrera's involvement in the fraud, take a close look here and if that wasn't enough check this as well.  I don't know how you can deny all the documentation that was addressed to Mr. Barrera by Citi Mortgage regarding the Oak Avenue home purchase let alone all the other information that he had regarding the transaction.  Interestingly enough, all the information in those two posts came right out of the lead Detective's own file yet he chose to do nothing about it. 
  7. UH HELLO!  DETECTIVE BALUJA, ASA KOSTRZEWSKI!  DO YOU NEED ANY MORE EVIDENCE THAT MR. BARRERA WAS INTIMATELY INVOLVED IN THIS FRAUD?  DUH!  He knows nothing about the mortgage fraud or the identity theft and evidently either does the lead detective or the assistant state attorney.
The ladies and gents effectively sums up the states victim in the Oak Avenue mortgage fraud/Identity theft case.  I can't wait to see Mr. Barrera before a jury!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas eve and a new game plan...

It's time for you know who...

I noticed that many of the other blogs that I follow are shutting down till next year, I know a great deal of our readers are going to be gone for the holidays yet I don't think it would be right to shut down for a week or so. I've noticed over the past few days that we have some new blog followers that stay up reading the blog till 2:30 in the morning only to get back on at the crack of dawn, so if nothing else, for this readers sake we're going to press on. What we'll do from now to next year though is review the pertinent facts of what we've written about over the last six months, I guess you can call it a "cliff notes" version of the blog for those who may have missed the highlights of our story. For the astute among you whose curiosity has been peaked regarding the 15 mortgage fraud cases that we've outlined recently, go back and try to figure out (if you haven't already) what the common denominator is in all the cases that we discussed. We'll discuss the answer to that riddle next year.

With that said, I wish all our readers a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We're scheming YO!

Of all the charges that were filed by assistant state attorney Bill Kostrzewski against the defendants in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case, I find this one the most interesting:

Organized Scheme to Defraud

I love the sound of that! The charge is self explanatory, but for the sake of the former lead detective on this case, Jorge Baluja, let's break it down for him word by word:
  • Organized- having a formal organization to coordinate and carry out activities , affiliated by membership in an organization (as a union)
  • Scheme- a plan or program of action; especially : a crafty or secret one
  • Defraud-to deprive of something by deception or fraud

I get it, do you Jorge? Organized, a coordinated activity, affiliated by membership. Scheme, a crafty or secret plan or program of action, Defraud, to deprive something by deception or fraud. Let's see how we can apply this "organized scheme to defraud" to our story. The very charge suggests that the people charged got together somewhere, maybe in a hallway, perhaps over drinks in a restaurant who knows and hatched this evil plot according to the states arrest affidavit to steal Bernardo Barrera's identity and defraud Citi Mortgage out of nearly $500,000. Tough to prove? Perhaps. Is there some sort of recording of such a meeting? Testimony by witnesses that such a meeting occurred? Perhaps this "organized scheme to defraud" charge is a bit tricky to prosecute.

In these instances I guess the best you can do is prove guilt by inference since there may not be any evidence to support the charge directly. Let's examine this charge as it pertains to at least the one defendant that has already plead out, Michael Martinez. As you may recall Mr. Martinez's role in this scheme was lending the "straw buyer" the down payment necessary to close the transaction, he was then repaid along with a $10,000 profit for his participation in the scheme. Now consider the nature of his involvement gives him an undeniable link to the "scheme". He lent the down payment money to the "straw buyer" and was then reimbursed by the seller of the home in question, John Romney. Isn't that enough to convince a jury that he was involved in the scheme? How often does the seller of a home reimburse ANYONE $135,000 for no reason? At least in my humble opinion it seems to me like this charge would have been a slam dunk.

Since we have no idea what was going on in the prosecutors head when he dropped this charge against Mr. Martinez, let's just imagine that he must have given up some fantastic testimony on the codefendents whose charges are still pending. The trial date is near, I can't wait to find out what Mr. Martinez has to say...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Take it easy folks!

Good grief peoples, judging by the comments and the emails that I received over the last few days I guess our posts from last Thursday and Friday got you guys GOING! What we discussed last week wasn't a criticism of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force, we already know with the exception of our favorite cop Jorge Baluja, the task force is made up of good cops who are more than capable of doing the police work necessary to bring down the fraudsters. Furthermore, we've already discussed the fact that we hold the creator of the task force, Glenn Theobald, in high regard for not only writing the legislation that led to the creation of the task force but also for bringing the crime of mortgage fraud to the national forefront. So who were we criticising? If not the bureaucrats who created the task force and not the cops who build the mortgage fraud cases, then who? The answer is in the outcome of the 15 cases that we outlined last week, the prosecutors.

What tipped me off to the questionable outcome of the cases we outlined was an email from a reader stating that one of the defendants that we discussed (Evelyn Marrero) had gone on to get convicted of mortgage fraud and a bevy of other charges ending with a 66 month prison sentence. The difference being that she wasn't prosecuted by the local state attorneys office, but instead was prosecuted federally. You have to ask yourself though, why the huge disparity in sentences between state and federal court? I have to investigate the federal prosecutions a little further before I can comment, universally though from the random sample of state cases that we discussed, it seems as if mortgage fraud isn't a very serious offense here in Dade, at worse all you can expect to get is probation.

Remember a few weeks back when we talked about a harsh punishment being a fantastic deterrent for future criminal activity? In many third world countries the punishment for theft is cutting off a hand or a finger, once you lose your hand because of some nefarious activity you may have engaged in, are you likely to engage in that activity again? I think not. While we live in a somewhat more civilized society, if you were convicted of say Mortgage Fraud and were sentenced to 5 years of prison, would you ever consider committing that crime or any other ever again? I certainly wouldn't! Once serious sentences like that start getting passed down, even those who didn't get caught breaking the law would think twice about doing the deed again for fear of getting locked up. On the other hand when the harshest sentence handed down is probation, what kind of deterrent is that? As I said before, if I can make say $369,000 like John Romney did and all I had to do was urinate in a cup once a month while visiting a probation officer, then I'M IN! WHERE DO I SIGN UP!

As we mentioned, we have no idea why there's such a huge disparity between sentencing in federal and state mortgage fraud prosecutions. I can tell you this, the way the criminals are slapped on the wrist and sent down the road by the state prosecutors is an insult to the police that put together these cases and an affront to the citizens of Miami Dade County. At the end of the day, it's the taxpayer that foots the bill for these senseless criminal cases with no hope of ever recouping the money spent to slap these guys on the wrist. I can't think of a better example of the Attorney David Rodriguez mortgage fraud case and how it was prosecuted. The cops had these guys red handed and based on what we saw in the arrest affidavit the prosecutor was given an open and shut case on a silver platter with the case culminating in nothing more than probation for the offenders.

I'm sure you can sense my frustration with this story at this point. Tomorrow we'll look a little closer at the prosecutors in the cases that we examined last week and see if we can find some answers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We're going to find mortgage fraud convictions with jail time DAMN IT!

Surely the mortgage fraud cases that we reviewed yesterday can't be indicative of all the mortgage fraud cases! I can't believe that out of the nine cases we reviewed totaling over $2,000,000 of fraud not one of the people charged ended up doing more than probation. After all don't you all remember the prosecutor who said:
"There's no room for probation."
What about when the head of the Miami Dade County Mortgage Fraud task force said:
"Probation is not an option."
Surely the cases we found yesterday were an anomaly...

Let's forge ahead (not the way the scammers "forge" Jorge!) and find some more mortgage fraud prosecutions and see how the state threw the book at the scammers...

Yaima Gato Case #F-08-0191999

Look at her! She looks guilty as hell! Let's see how the state nailed her...

Case Disposition
JESUS! MORE PROBATION! WTF!? Let's dispense with this petty nonsense, now we're going to move beyond these six figure mortgage frauds and see how the state locked up folks that committed SEVEN FIGURE FRAUDS! I have no explanation whatsoever for the smaller six figure frauds getting punished with no more than a slap on the wrist and probation, surely the only place left for us to find massive jail sentences for mortgage fraudsters is in the multi million dollar frauds. Let's take a look, shall we?

LOOK AT THAT FOLKS! $1.8 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF FRAUD!!!! Surely these fraudsters are behind bars now and enjoying a healthy diet of daily tossed salads right?! HELL YES! At the top we have what looks to be the ring leader, Rafael Diaz with his four underlings, let's start at the bottom and work our way up the hierarchy...

Gilbert Oquendo Case #F-07-037900D
Case Disposition

Oh, more probation? I'm sure there's an explanation. Let's keep going...

Justo Santana Case #F-07-037900-B
Case Disposition

Um, more probation. There has to be an explanation, my theory is that they plead out these guys to get the higher ups in the this seven figure mortgage fraud, I'm sure as we work our way up the organization, we'll see some serious jail time.

Rayner Aguiar Case #F-07-037900-C
Case Disposition

Huh? More probation? Let's keep going...

Evelyn Marrero Case #F-07-037900-C
Case Disposition

Uh oh. We've gone through all but one of those charges and we still haven't seen more than probation as a punishment, is it possible that the four codefendants got probation to sell out the guy at the head of the organization? Let's see...

Rafael Diaz Case #F-07-037900-E
Case Disposition



I can't figure it out folks. After all that tough talk by the task force and the prosecutors, we've seen nothing more than probation handed out. Look back, we have just in these 15 cases that we've outlined over $4.5 million dollars worth of fraud, all punished with no more than a slap on the wrist and probation. Anyone have any answers? I certainly don't. Rob a convenience store and you'll end up in jail, get caught a few times driving with a suspended license and you'll end up in jail, but steal millions through mortgage fraud and you'll get nothing but a slap on the wrist. Is this what all the hard work that Mr. Glenn Theobald did in creating the mortgage fraud legislation and the task force amounted to? Is this what all the good police work that the cops who made these cases come to? Probation? How are these sentences going to be a deterrent for anyone considering committing a new mortgage fraud crime? Perhaps the people who made those statements in the beginning of our post today had it wrong, I think it's supposed to go like this:

"Prison is not an option."

There's a common thread among all these cases that we've outlined these past two days, we'll investigate that on Monday, HAVE A NICE WEEKEND!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So you've committed mortgage fraud and got caught, what next?

Our blog analytic software shows that one of the most googled phrases that lands people on this site is "I've committed mortgage fraud", I suppose these people are here on our blog looking for an answer to the mess that they've found themselves in. Say for the sake of argument that you've already been arrested and have had criminal charges filed against you, where are you headed? I can't speak for how things would work for you outside of Miami Dade county, but if you did get busted here in Miami, guess what? YOU'RE IN LUCK!

Am I nuts? Is this some sort of joke? After all, everything that's available online suggests that if you've been arrested for participating in mortgage fraud, YOUR ASS IS GOING DOWN! We've heard prosecutors say "There's no room for probation" and "Probation is not an option", those are very strong words but is that what really happens? We've already seen brilliant police work by Sgt. Richard Davis in one of the first Mortgage Fraud Task Force arrests that then became nothing more than a slap on the wrist for the people that were charged. From what we've seen in that case we're lead to believe that the case fell apart once it was turned over to the prosecutor. Was that an isolated incident? Was the prosecutor in that case asleep at the wheel?

Let's give the prosecutor the benefit of the doubt and chalk up the lame prosecution of the afore mentioned case to bad luck for the state, surely there are plenty of other headline cases made by the Mortgage Fraud Task Force that were prosecuted by the State Attorneys Office that sent the bad guys up the river with lengthy prison sentences, right? I'm sure we're going to find some prosecutions that are going to make the Mortgage Fraud Task Force members who investigated these cases proud, let's take a look at what happened to these cases after they were handed off to the prosecutor...

Milton Ibanez Case #F-08-014551-A

Case Disposition
What's that? Probation? Mr. Ibanez is accused of $435,000 worth of fraud and he gets probation. This isn't going to work, let's move on to the next case,

Caridad Marrero Case # F-08-005628

Case Disposition
Charges dropped! Something haywire there, let's keep looking...

Hilda E. Cardelle Case #F-08-009458-A

Case Disposition
AH HAH! The mortgage fraud charge was dropped, at least the 1st degree grand theft charge is still pending! Upon further inspection we find that Ms. Cardelle is about to plead on 2/12/2010, so this case isn't going to work either. Let's keep looking for a solid prosecution of one of these mortgage fraudsters...

Ana Ferrer Case #F-08-012976
Case Disposition
DAMN! Another case where probation was handed out. $HIT! Let's keep looking, next we find the Martinez-Cano mortgage fraud gang accused of stealing $368,000! Look at these fraudsters! I'm sure their asses got locked up!

HELL YES! Fancy graphics and all! Let's take a look at the nasty sentence these crooks got!

Manuel Martinez Case #F-08-011743-B
OK, maybe Mr. Martinez was innocent, let's move on to Helen Martinez-Cano, she looks suspicious to say the least...

Helen Martinez-Cano Case #F-08-011743-A
Jeeze, all three charges dropped? Ok, I get it, the real bad guy was the remaining defendant in the case, Roberto Cano, I'm sure they threw the book at him!

Roberto Cano Case #F-08-011743-C
WHAT?! $368,000 worth of mortgage fraud and the man got PROBATION!? WTF?! Ok, let's look at one last set for today...

There you go! Sandra Prosperi and Carmen Baeza accused of stealing $712,000!!!! What did they get, 5, 10 or 20 years? Let's look...

Sandra Prosperi Case #F-08-005940-A
WHAT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? MORE PROBATION?! More than $700,000 in fraud and all she got was probation? Certainly, the prosecutor must have thrown the book at her partner right? Let's see...

Carmen Balbuena-Baeza Case #F-08-005940-B
HOLY $HIT! MORE PROBATION?! Are you kidding me? We've just outlined $2,134,116 worth of mortgage fraud between nine defendants and all the prosecutor was able to nail them with was FCUKING PROBATION? This can't be right, certainly there must be some sort of mistake. You can pull a gun on someone and steal their wallet and have to do jail time, how do these people get away with committing this level of financial crime in the multi millions and only get probation? We've already established that the cops that put these cases together do good police work and bring in solid cases so why does everything seem to fall apart once the case gets into the prosecutors hands?

Let's not jump to any conclusions yet, perhaps what we've found in these nine cases is just an anomaly. I'm going to go back over to the courthouse tomorrow and research more mortgage fraud cases that have been prosecuted by the local state attorneys office, I'm sure we'll find some cases were nasty prison sentences were handed out to the crooks. Stay tuned till tomorrow.

An attorney gives us his oppinion...

We looked at the timeline of events in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case yesterday as presented to us in the arrest affidavit that was created by Detective Jorge Baluja and Prosecutor Bill Kostrzewski. We've also obtained an audio recording and transcript of a court hearing where the prosecutor was asked by the judge to explain what the case at hand was about, the prosecutor went on to explain the facts of the case as well as the involvement of the co defendants in the alleged crime. We haven't been able to determine whether posting that audio recording here is permissible or not, we'll have to hold off on posting that information until we get a legal opinion on that matter. What I did do though was forward that recording and the transcript to several prominent attorneys to get their point of view on the prosecutors performance so far. Let's see what Attorney Arthur Kirkland had to say about the prosecutors case so far...

DOH! We needed a little levity, the tone of the blog has been far too serious lately. Serious stuff coming tomorrow, we're going to reexamine the "probation is not an option" quote from a few weeks back.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Revisiting the timeline in the arrest affidavit.

Why don't we take a look at the information that was filed by the state against the defendants in Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case, perhaps then we'll have a better understanding of what went down. Here's the time line as it appears in the arrest affidavit...

Let's look at those dates:

  • 2/13/08 Purchase of the subject home by Mr. Romney's company.
  • 2/19/08 Sale of property by Mr. Romney to the man who posed as Bernardo Barrera. The state alleges that a HUD-1 closing statement was faxed to the lender indicating that the earnest money was already paid.
  • 2/20/08 Citi mortgage wire transferred loan proceeds to attorneys trust account.
  • 2/21/08 Michael Martinez purchases a cashiers check for $123,530.56 made payable to attorneys trust account.
  • 2/22/08 Proceeds from the closing were disbursed to seller (Romney).
  • 2/27/08 Cashiers check purchased by Martinez is deposited into the attorneys escrow account.
No doubt that's a lot of information to digest, go over it again and pay specific attention to the dates. Why were the proceeds of the closing disbursed three days after the closing occurred? Perhaps only two days after the closing depending what time the closing occurred on the nineteenth. Why were the proceeds disbursed the day after Michael Martinez purchased the cashiers check that was for according to the affidavit "the earnest money" for the closing? Here's the big question, the affidavit states that the CASHIERS CHECK representing the "earnest money" was deposited on 2/27/08, who had the check after it was issued? One would tend to think that the check was handed over to the attorney on 2/21/08 or 2/22/08 triggering the disbursement of the proceeds of the sale, yet this essential element of the time line is somehow conspicuously absent. Also, the state fails to acknwoledge that the dates between the delivery of the check and the deposit include a weekend. Why were the details of who had possession of the "earnest money" cashiers check left intentionally ambiguous? If indeed the check was given to the attorney before the disbursement, the state would have a hard time convincing the judge who signed off on the affidavit that the attorney was complicit in the fraud, wouldn't it?

I'll leave you with the following issues to ponder till tomorrow:
  • Why were essential details regarding the possession of the cashiers check representing the "earnest money" required for the closing intentionally left out of the arrest affidavit?
  • If indeed the attorney was in on the fraud, why was a cashiers check for the "earnest money" even required?
  • If indeed the attorney was in on the fraud, why was it necessary to involve another conspirator who was paid an additional $10,000 for his involvement out of Romney's cut of the profit?
  • For that matter, If the attorney was in on it, why did they need an impostor to go to the closing and pose as Bernardo Barrera?
  • And most importantly, If indeed the attorney was in on the fraud, as the state alleges, why can't I find any proof in the states case file of a "payoff" to the attorney for her involvement?
Tomorrow we'll see how the prosecutor thinks things went down, for some reason or another, his version of events is a lot different than what is alleged to have happened in the arrest affidavit...