Tuesday, July 21, 2009

THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION! Detective Jorge Baluja and his arrest affidavit.

As I mentioned before, the arrest affidavit that I obtained for the Estefano, Romney and Martinez case is lengthy. Its going to take a few days for me to digest the whole thing and check with a couple lawyers to get their opinions on different things that I see in there that don't seem kosher. Overall, I can see there was definitely some sort of complicity between John Romney and Michael Martinez, there is no denying that.

I don't know much about law, specifically criminal law, if anything you can say my law background is limited to what I learned from watching TV, the common thread in all the investigations from the TV shows was "follow the money" when investigating. By chance, I found this story in the Huffington Post where Glenn Theobald (the head of the Miami Dade County Mortgage Fraud Task Force) talks about his Mortgage Fraud Task Force. I found this quote funny:
We're talking cases that rival, in complexity, the painstaking drug-organization takedowns of "The Wire."
I loved that show! One of the things that Detective Lester Freamon made a point of saying again and again during the infancy of their unit in the first season was "Follow the money", specifically:
...start to follow the money, and you don't know where the fuck it's gonna take you.
Cool. I miss that show. So taking Detective Freamon's advice, why don't we follow the money in the case at hand. Based on the arrest affidavit there are three players:
  1. John Romney - this is the seller of the home located at Oak avenue that purchased said home only days before the closing that occurred involving the "straw buyer" and the Identity Theft. Based on the arrest affidavit he netted $234,896.88. Not bad for a days work!
  2. Michael Martinez -this is the guy who lent the "straw buyer" $125,000 as the earnest money for the closing and was then repaid the $125,000 and $10,000 more after the closing, therefore his net was $10,000
  3. Delaila Estefano -this is the attorney that closed this deal. Based on the arrest affidavit I see NO NET GAIN! That is besides whatever fees are charged for the closing (closing costs, title insurance etc), I sincerely doubt whatever that amount was comes even close to what the other two guys made.
Alrighty then! Lets go back to Detective Lester Freamons (a TV detective, not a real one) quote:
...start to follow the money, and you don't know where the fuck it's gonna take you.
Logic would dictate that you go after Romney and Martinez, these two cats are the ones that made off with a sack load of cash so wouldn't the focus of your investigation be on these guys? Strangely enough though after reading the affidavit thoroughly it seems as if the target of the investigation was the attorney. Bizarre huh? From what I read it looks like Detective Jorge Baluja didn't even look into the guy who claimed to be the victim of the Identity Theft! The only mention he makes of this guy is that "he has good credit" and that:
The true Bernardo Barreira (sic) provided an affidavit that he never bought the above monetioned (sic) property, never applied for any loan to buy it, nor did he give anyone authorization to do so on his behalf. He testified that he become (sic) aware of this situation through his credit monitoring service. He then contacted the Miami-Dade Police Department, which resulted in this investigation.
Anyone see anything strange in that statement? For the astute among you I'm sure you already see the problem with the statement, we'll read between the lines a little later on. I also get a kick out of the detectives statement where he says "he has good credit." How does the detective know? Did he pull his credit report? Did the "victim" provide him with a copy of his credit report? This is where the good detective steps on his first land mine. The nature of this investigation could HAVE COMPLETELY CHANGED if the detective would have simply investigated the "victims" claims.

He didn't. This is where things begin to go horribly wrong.

The train has left the station...

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