Friday, October 30, 2009

The height of stupidity, THE MORTGAGE FRAUD CAR CHASE!

Just when you think you've heard everything, now comes Jorge Baluja's crowning achievement, the "Mortgage Fraud Car Chase!" When I hear about cops chasing bad guys, what comes to mind my mind aren't those senseless car chases you see on TV filmed from helicopters, but instead I always picture Gene Hackman chasing the bad guys in the French Connection.

You remember, running around Queens, hauling ass chasing the bad guys, running over garbage cans, etc. I can understand the rational behind something like that, after all those guys were smuggling drugs, their whereabouts mostly unknown, not to mention that they were a danger to the community. Let's take a look at what happened with Mr. Romney and how on one fair October night he ended up being chased around Miami by Detective Baluja. From John Romney's arrest affidavit...

So they're watching the house "in an effort to locate Romney" at which point they see him coming out of the house and getting into a car. Now, if they're surveilling him for the purposes of arresting him, shouldn't this be enough? They've located him at his house, what else do you need? So now Detective Baluja starts following the car around and the people in the car realize they're being followed by the cops, so they try to get away. Baluja then gets them pulled over by an marked car only to realize that the guy driving the car had a suspended license. Once the officer in the marked car arrested the guy that was driving the car, Romney gets in the car and drives away. I can just imagine how giddy Detective Baluja must have been at this point, him and his partner must have been laughing their asses off. Here's what happens afterwords...

Say what? They follow him to La Carreta, then back to his house to pick up a woman. Why the hell did you need to follow him to a restaurant? What's the purpose of this exercise? What were they expecting him to do, deliver forged loan documents to someone? Go conduct a fraudulent late night appraisal? I mean after all this is nearly seven months after the Bernardo Barrera fraudulent home purchase had occurred, by this time Romney was broke, so what exactly were they expecting to see? So they follow Romney back to his house, he picks up a "white female" and then according to the affidavit he "left...driving at an excessive rate of speed", why exactly are you chasing John Romney around town again Jorge?! Baluja goes on to say that...

"Romney drove through a red light...We terminated the surveillance at that point to avoid any danger to the public"
Really? It looks to me that our man Romney got sufficiently pissed off that this guy was following him and took off, after all, Detective Baluja was doing such a great job of surveilling Romney that he couldn't avoid detection! Does anyone believe that Detective Baluja terminated the chase because "he wanted to avoid danger to the public?" I doubt it, I suspect Detective Baluja lost Mr. Romney and wrote this nonsense about "avoiding danger to the public" to cover his ass for losing Romney or perhaps the chase ended something like this...

What a crock of $hit.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The pesky survielance photo and the unidentified person...

Earlier we mentioned a surveillance photo from the bank where Michael Martinez purchased the cashiers check for the closing on the Oak Avenue home. Remember, Mr. Martinez lent the person that was supposedly posing as Bernardo Barrera at the closing the down payment for the home in the form of this check. In this photo are three people, one is identified as Michael Martinez, the other is Lourdes Martinez, Michael's mother and the third person is left as unidentified by the lead Detective in the case, Jorge Baluja. Now, how could this man be unidentified? After all this is a photo of three people standing together in front of the teller window and obviously from the body language and the looks on their faces, these people have to know each other. Was there a problem with the photo that caused Detective Baluja not to be able to discover the third persons identity? Perhaps the unidentified persons head in the photo was a little blurry?

Maybe it wasn't blurry, perhaps the third person was wearing a disguise?

Or maybe this third person in Detective Baluja's opinion didn't look like he had anything to do with the other two people, maybe an uninvolved bystander who has different ideas about interpersonal distances between themselves and strangers?

Could it have been possible that somehow the face was obscured by one of those pesky black boxes that the government is so fond of using when they're trying to keep something confidential?

Or maybe the third person just looked so damn scary to Detective Baluja that he didn't even want to try to identify him..

So why couldn't Detective Baluja identify this third person? Now, please keep in mind that we're not insinuating that this third "unidentified" person had anything to do with the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud or had knowledge of what Mr. Martinez was at the bank for, but considering that Detective Baluja knew that Mr. Martinez was at the bank to purchase the cashiers check for the fraudulent closing, don't you think it would have been a good idea for him to identify and interview this third person? After all, the good detective identified Lourdes Martinez, so why not figure out who this third person is? Maybe this third person could shed some light on what was going on in this photo? Let's see what Detective Baluja said about this third "unidentified" third person during his deposition...

Huh? He hasn't been able to identify this third person?! This is the same Detective Baluja that received a commendation for his investigative skills, yet he hasn't tried to identify this third person? WTF?! Why don't we take a look at this photo that Detective Baluja was having such a hard time with, let's see just how hard it is to identify this third person...

WHOOPS! That ain't no CSI $hit folks! That's about as clear of a photo as you could ask for. So what's the problem? Look at the body language, look at the facial expressions, HOW THE HELL COULD THE TWO PEOPLE ON THE LEFT NOT KNOWN WHO THE GUY ON THE RIGHT WAS?! Once again, I reiterate, we're in no way shape or form accusing the guy on the right of any wrong doing, consider though that if the two people on the left were at the bank, engaged in some nefarious activity, wouldn't any prudent detective want to find out who the guy on the right is? Wouldn't you at least want to chat with him? Maybe ask him a few questions? At the very least ask him who his barber is?!

We're forgetting one important point here, we're dealing with Jorge Baluja, in Jorge's universe (at least based on what we've seen over the last few months) NOTHING MAKES SENSE!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Remember that old Wendy's commercial?

That's what I want to know! We noted in our post from yesterday that the other two attorneys that we've mentioned (Roger Besu and Sally Sawh) both are alleged to have made off with over TWO MILLION DOLLARS each in separate unrelated cases. That's a ton of BEEF!! If the opportunity arose for me to make off with that kind of loot through some nefarious activity, I'd really have to think twice about it, after all, with that much money, you could live peacefully for the rest of your life in some country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with Uncle Sam! Now, we know that in the Barrera mortgage fraud case, Mr. Romney made off with $369,896.88 Mr. Martinez collected a cool $11,469.64 (profit for lending $123,530.36 the man supposedly posing as Bernardo Barrera at the closing), what did the person who the state alleges was their co conspirator, Attorney Delaila Estafano make from this deal? I mentioned yesterday that I was going to drag my ass down to the courthouse and extract the dollar amount of what the attorney got from this deal from whats in criminal court file. What did I find? Let's take a look at the closing statement from the purchase of the home at Oak Avenue:

Let's summarize what's on that statement:

Alrighty then! So from what we've seen now, Mr. Romney makes away with $369,896.88, Mr. Martinez picks up $11,469.64 and Ms. Estefano's take of this massive mortgage fraud is THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY DOLLARS?! If I'm understanding this correctly, $2,450 of that $3,720 has to go to pay for the title insurance, therefore netting the attorney a WHOPPING ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY DOLLARS?! WHAT?!

Let's take things into perspective here, Romney makes away with over $350k, Martinez makes close to $12k and the attorney who the state is accusing of being their partner in crime made $1,270?! I can understand throwing caution into the wind and stepping on the wrong side of the law for a six or seven figure payoff, but risk your entire career and reputation for a measly $1,270? What is she a fcuking Broward County Politician?! I mean, who else can be bought for chump change like that?! Something doesn't make sense. I've gone backwards and forwards through the case file and I can't make heads or tails of this mess. Throw six or seven figures in front of me and I'll consider committing a crime of this magnitude, but not for the price of a set of tires for my car!

Something is rotten in Denmark folks. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at those pesky surveillance photos that Detective Baluja had so much trouble with and on Friday we're going to end our week with the height of stupidity, a mortgage fraud high speed car chase!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


So here I am scouring the internet for something to write about and BAM I come across this mess! This is the story of Miami Beach attorney Sally Sawh who allegedly stole TWO MILLION DOLLARS FROM HER CLIENTS! NO $HIT! Let's take a look:

DAMN! Sally Sawh something alright, she SAWH herself spending her clients money to the tune of TWO MILLION DOLLARS! Let's see what her attorney says (click on photo to enlarge)...

No $hit huh? To your "dismay" the state attorney's office concluded that certain transactions violated Florida law?! That's precious! TWO MILLION DOLLARS MISSING AND THEY'RE DISMAYED?! I certainly got a kick out of Ms. Sawh's defense attorney's comments, that's damn funny.

What struck me as odd though was where the article states that Ms. Sawh was released on $10,000 bail. I mean, she allegedly steals TWO MILLION FCUKING DOLLARS and she gets out on $10,000 bail? Our man Roger Besu was hit with a $5 million dollar bail, I wonder what made Sally any different? Both were attorneys who were disbarred when they were arrested for equally egregious bar complaints, so what was it that let her get away with only a $10,000 bail? Strange stuff people!

Anyone remember the arrests in the Barrera Mortgage fraud case? We've already discussed at length how the bail amounts for the defendants were exorbitantly high (here, here and here), John Romney and Michael Martinez got nearly half a million dollars bail and the attorney Delaila Estefano, got $75,000 bail. Keep in mind that the attorney was a practicing attorney at the time of the arrest, not like Mr. Besu or Ms. Sawh we were both suspended from practicing at the time of their arrests. So the question begs to be asked, why were the bail amounts so high? Ms. Sawh allegedly made away with $2 million and she walked out of jail on $10,000 bail, just how much money did the attorney in the Barrera case steal? Answers anyone? Detective Baluja? Assistant State Attorney Kostrzewski? Anyone?

Looks like I'll be making another trip down to the courthouse tomorrow to find the answer...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why would you commit mortgage fraud?

Here we are several months into our story about mortgage fraud and one question begs to be asked, why would someone commit mortgage fraud? Whether the perpetrator is young or old one has to question why they would put their asses on the line to make a quick buck, especially committing a crime like mortgage fraud that leaves a paperwork trail that will ensnarl everyone that's involved from start to finish. What would motivate someone to commit mortgage fraud? I was perplexed by this dilemma until I spotted the answer in a parking lot over the weekend, it was so obvious that I felt ashamed...

Could it get easier than that? Getting back to business, I've noticed throughout the course of our investigation that almost every one of these mortgage fraud prosecutions ends in probation, THAT'S RIGHT! No matter how egregious the offense, unilaterally the harshest punishment is probation. We talked about this phenomenon a few weeks back and we even went on to state that Mr. Romney had already cut a deal with the state, now at least we have some proof, take a look at the docket on his criminal case...

There you have it ladies and gents. Tomorrow we'll look at some other mortgage fraud prosecutions and see what the outcome of those cases are.

Friday, October 23, 2009

IT'S FINALLY FRIDAY! Let's see how much Jorge Baluja knows about Real Estate!

At some point based on everything we've seen over the last few months, you have to ask yourself, just how much does Detective Jorge Baluja know about complex Real Estate transactions? I mean after all, let's not forget Detective Baluja couldn't even execute the mortgage on his own home correctly so surely his background in Real Estate and in Mortgages must be suspect. Before we jump to conclusions, let's be fair here, let's give Jorge the benefit of the doubt, surely screwing up the execution of his own mortgage was an isolated incident, surely he knows more than we think about Real Estate and Mortgages, after all HE WAS A MORTGAGE FRAUD INVESTIGATOR!

Like I've said before, I've spent the last few weeks worth of afternoons pouring over paperwork in the case files located at the NINTH FLOOR OF THE CRIMINAL COURT HOUSE LOCATED AT 1351 N.W. 12th Street Miami, Florida 33125. It's oddly enough a great place to spend some time to get some laughs! One of my favorite reads is a copy of Detective Baluja's deposition regarding the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud case. Let's take a look and see just what kind of understanding Mr. Baluja has of Real Estate and the documents involved in a real estate transaction.

What is a warranty deed? According to Wikipedia...
warranty deed is a type of deed where the grantor (seller) guarantees that he or she holds clear title to a piece of real estate and has a right to sell it to the grantee (buyer).
Ok, now let's look at what Detective Baluja thinks a warranty deed is:

INFORMATION ON WHO'S BUYING THE HOUSE? WTF?! Ok, perhaps that one was too tough, let's get to something a bit easier that is at the heart of a mortgage, the promissory note, again according to Wikipedia a promissory note is:

a contract where one party (the maker or issuer) makes an unconditional promise in writing to pay a sum of money to the other (the payee), either at a fixed or determinable future time or on demand of the payee, under specific terms.
Ok, that's easy enough, after all the very definition is part of the name! Let's see what Detective Baluja says when asked what a promissory note is...

WHAT IN THE FCUK? He doesn't recall what a PROMISSORY NOTE IS? HOLY $HIT! Ok, I'm seeing a trend here, let's back off a bit with these complex terms, let's go to something easier like a TRUTH IN LENDING STATEMENT. How hard is that one? We can deduce from the name alone it's a statement that discusses elements of the loan. What is a Truth in Lending statement?
Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement is to show you the estimated total costs of borrowing, the expected payment amounts over the life of the loan, and other significant features of your loan.
That's easy enough right? Can we get more basic than that? Let's see what Detective Baluja has to say about a Truth in Lending Statement...

OH LORD! A TRUTH IN LENDING STATEMENT IS A LOAN APPLICATION?! How this deposition could have occurred without the people present busting out in laughter is beyond me. At this point you have to ask yourself, just how much confidence does the state have in it's lead detective? I mean, he doesn't know the very basics of Real Estate transactions or mortgages so how much confidence could they have? Let's look...

YIKES! From what I see in my interpretation of the transcript, at this point the state is so shaken by the detectives performance that they don't even have enough confidence in him to believe he knows the meaning of the word "VERBATIM"! Is that scary or what?

Now, based on this little snippets from Detective Baluja's deposition, is there any way that you could believe that he was the lead detective on a complex mortgage fraud investigation? After all, he's proven that he doesn't have a grasp on the most basic elements of a real estate transaction or a mortgage. Considering these facts, can you believe that he was allowed to build a case and arrest the defendants? He's changed the course of the defendants lives PERMANENTLY and we now know that when it comes to Real Estate and Mortgages, he doesn't know HIS ASS FROM HIS ELBOW! Can anyone with a modicum of intelligence comprehend what's happening here? Can you believe that this guy was allowed to investigate ANYTHING?

I still have have hope for Jorge though, at the very least you would think that when he submits documents to the state in support of his arrest affidavit that he uses spell check to cover up any spelling mistakes that he may have made, correct? After all, these documents are a permanent part of the case file, one that the judge will review and all the attorneys will review, so surely he did his best to make his reports look good correct?

OH LORD! Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some real police work!

Enough with the serious stuff! The last two days worth of posts were downright depressing right? Let's get back to business. At some point or another, we've all watched those TV cops shows, one of the most popular these days is the CSI series. It's amazing watching these shows to sit back and see how good the cops are and how thorough their investigations are, is it just me or do they always get there man? Let's take a look at a scene from a recent CSI Miami episode...

DAMN YO! Can you believe that $hit! Now I'm sure there are fantastic cops out there, but this good? Technology this good? Let's forget about all that for now and turn back to Detective Baluja. Can you imagine that Mr. Baluja had a photo that WAS CLEAR AS DAY of Michael Martinez, his mother and another person purchasing the cashiers check that was used as the down payment for the Bernardo Barrera home purchase, yet even though Mr. Baluja arrested Michael Martinez, HE WAS UNABLE TO IDENTIFY THE OTHER PERSON THAT WAS THERE?! How often do you get three people standing in front of a teller at a bank, all three next to each other, yet they don't know each other? WTF?!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

OK, now more on Roger Besu.

Yesterday we covered Ernest Portuondo, today for all those people who keep nagging me, we'll look at Roger Besu again. So back to the courthouse and we find the information the state filed against Mr. Besu, let me remind you again, this is what the state is alleging happened, do not disregard the presumption of innocence that we have to afford Mr. Besu. Here it is (click on the photos to enlarge them):

My goodness. Sell your business and send the proceeds over to your attorneys escrow account for safe keeping, the same proceeds that you plan on retiring with. Is there a place safer than an attorneys trust account? Too bad for the victim. What about when the detectives went over to Mr. Besu's partners office? His partner said that Mr. Besu had taken the files that they were requesting to his home and that on one of the many visits to Mr. Besu's home, his partner witnessed UPS picking up boxes and taking them to some undisclosed location. Oh, ok!

So there you have it boys and girls. For those of you interested, Mr. Roger Besu was released on bail last week.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

OK, OK! The story of Ernesto Portuondo and Attorney Alfredo Xiques

I get it! Based on all the hits the site gets, the most popular keywords other than the people involved in this case are Ernesto Portuondo and Roger Besu. Fine, you guys want to know the story that bad?! I'll tell you the damn story. Let's start with the criminal information filed by the state against Mr. Ernesto "Ernie" Portuondo, here is count #1:

Ok, that's fairly straight forward, that speaks to the grand theft charge, now count #2:

Ok, fraudulent mortgage docs, again, fairly straightforward. Now count #3:

And the bit of the states information speaks to the forgery charge against Mr. Portuondo. So in a nutshell, what happened was Mr. Portuondo owned a property with two other people, Jose Fonseca and Carolina Fonseca, nothing wrong there. What happened though according to the information that was filed by the state of Florida was that Mr. Portuondo went on to obtain a second mortgage on said property for the amount of $120,000 without the consent of the Fonsecas, furthermore the state alleges that Ernesto Portuondo obtained this mortgage by forging the Fonsecas signature on the mortgage documents. The state then alleges that Ernesto Portuondo went on to use the proceeds of this transaction to conduct several other transactions for which he was charged with six counts of money laundering.

Lets take a look at what the Fonsecas real signatures look like from the first mortgage of the property that is at the center of this mess:

Here we can clearly see that everyone signed the first mortgage and that it was notarized by an attorney named Alfredo Xiques. Very good. Now, lets move on to the mortgage for the fraudulent second mortgage:

So here we see signatures that look very different for the Fonsecas and we notice that someone name Vivian Morejon witnessed the signatures, but who notarized all these signatures? Let's look...

ZOINKS!! it was notarized by the same guy as the real mortgage! It was notarized by Alfredo Xiques! HOLY SMOKES! But hold your horses! THE ATTORNEY DIDN'T GET CHARGED! WTF?! That's right! The attorney who notarized the fake signatures didn't get charged, the woman who witnessed the fake signature didn't get charged and the attorney that prepared the documents didn't get charged! WHAT THE FCUK?! Why didn't they get charged?! After all, this attorney knowingly notarized documents that he knew weren't signed in front of him and one could argue that it may have even been possible that he knew that the signatures were FORGERIES! Based on what we've seen the state do in the Bernardo Barrera case, shouldn't the attorney who notarized these documents been arrested?! I mean for Christ's sakes, at least with the Bernardo Barrera case the state alleges there was an impostor at the closing, in this one they didn't even produce impostors to sign the documents!

I don't get it. Is this a perfect example of selective prosecution OR WHAT?! Remember INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! What we've reproduced above is what the state is ALLEGING Mr. Portuondo has done.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A pattern of behavior...

A pattern of behaviour, bad character and lack of mistake. Could you imagine if I could characterize the behavior of police officer this way? Even worse if I could prove that the lead detective in an important investigation has a habit of lying, bending the truth and suborning perjury? Let's take a moment to examine that phrase...
Suborning Perjury- The criminal offense of procuring another to commit perjury, which is the crime of lying, in a material matter, while under oath.
That's some serious $hit there isn't it? I spent the weekend reading and rereading paperwork that I've collected regarding this cop and this case, I can't believe what I've found.
Why the hell would someone in law enforcement do something like this? Come on now, we're talking about Jorge Baluja here! Remember his treatment of the Blanton Harris traffic accident investigation? Do you recall the way he ordered a witness to change her testimony and lie about how the accident had happened? In case you forgot, let's take another look at an excerpt from the Independent Review Panel findings...

That's nice isn't it? You don't hear what you want so you make the witness change her statement to say what you want it to say! Isn't that convenient? Now, what if I tell you I've found PROOF of the same behavior in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case? Even better, who do we have ordering a witness to lie under oath? Under penalty of law for perjury? YOU GUESSED IT!


Considering the magnitude of what I've discovered, I have to carefully consider what I'm going to do with my findings. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good lord WTF!

I've spent my Saturday pouring over paperwork I got from the court house regarding the fraud from the Oak Avenue home purchase. The more I read the less things make sense. As a matter of fact, this Japanese animation makes more damn sense than this case does...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More on Mr. Bernardo Barrera and his claims of identity theft...

Continuing from yesterday, Mr. Barrera goes on to claim that before March 19, he had no idea of the mortgage that was applied for under his name for the purchase of the home at Oak Avenue. If this was true, how did he ignore the following correspondences between Citi Mortgage and himself all before the closing that he claims was fraudulent occurred?
  • January 25, 2008 Citi generates a Truth in Lending letter as well as a letter that indicates what his payments will be that was mailed to Barrera’s CORRECT ADDRESS!, this is required to be sent to the borrower by law before the closing can occur.
  • January 29, 2008 Citi generates commitment letter mailed to Barreras CORRECT address. Closing was to have occurred by February 15, 2008.
  • January 31, 2008 Citi mortgage mails A SECOND COMMITMENT LETTER to Barrera at his correct address.
  • February 19, 2008 Citi mortgage mails A THIRD COMMITMENT LETTER to Barrera at his correct address.
  • February 19, 2008 Citi mortgage mails a FUCKING THANK YOU LETTER TO BARRERA AT HIS CORRECT ADDRESS thanking him for the business and giving him the details for EASY PAY!
That's five letters that Citi Mortgage sent directly to Mr. Barrera's primary residence, so he may have missed one, but what about the other four? Forget about everything else I mentioned, HOW THE FCUK CAN YOU DENY THE EXISTENCE OF THESE LETTERS? Remember, the "fraudulent" closing happened on February 19, 2009, we've laid out proof that THERE IS NO WAY THAT BERNARDO BARRERA WAS NOT AWARE THAT THIS TRANSACTION WAS HAPPENING! Come on guys!

Like I said, I have the documents to prove everything I've stated. It was these documents that caused other attorneys involved in the civil case to conclude that Mr. Barrera was involved in some way shape or form in the fraud. Sadly enough that our favorite Detective, Jorge Baluja chose to ignore all these facts. Even worse, we now know that the state attorneys office is well aware of these facts as well and has had knowledge of these documents for several months. In my opinion what we've laid out show more probable cause on Mr. Barrera than anyone involved in this case other than John Romney. So why are these facts being ignored? Why is the state choosing not to pursue Mr. Barrera?

It's simple. If the state were to now admit that Mr. Barrera was in any way shape or form involved in the fraud, everything falls apart. Despite what is clearly evident in these documents, they'll choose to ignore what's blatantly obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense. That's why boys and girls, the real fraud here isn't the one involving the mortgage for the home located on Oak avenue, it's much larger and much worse...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What about that ground breaking stuff we talked about a few weeks back?

Everyone remember when I mentioned that we had obtained a package of documents regarding this mortgage fraud case that would turn everything on its ear? As I mentioned, I was conflicted as to whether or not we should post the actual documents online since they contained the personal information of one Bernard Barrera, the man the state calls the "victim" of the fraud perpetrated by Mr. Romney and crew. I've come to the conclusion that I won't post the actual documents, but instead I'll tell you what the documents contained that caused at least one attorney involved in the foreclosure case for the Oak Avenue home to conclude that Mr. Barrera was involved in the fraud.

Here we go, Mr. Barrera claimed that a credit monitoring service alerted him to a new home loan on March 19, 2008. This claim was suspect on July 23, 2008 when we first talked about it and now my suspicions are confirmed regarding Mr. Barrera having knowledge of the fraud, why you ask? Very simple boys and girls, I have a copy of Mr. Barrera's CREDIT REPORT!!!
A mortgage broker and Merchants Association of Florida pull Mr. Barreras credit report three times on January 2, 2008 and it is instantly reflected on his credit report. Despite Barreras claims that he constantly monitors his credit reports, he neglects to tell the police that there are THREE inquiries generated on this date. WTF?!
Mr. Barrera claims that he was in no way shape or form involved in the purchase of the home at 3390 Oak Avenue that is the center of this fraud.
Guess what?! I have a copy of a purchase contract for the home on Oak Avenue executed on January 14, 2008 by non other than Mr. Bernardo Barrera! WHOOPS!
Mr. Barrera claimed that he was in no way shape or form involved in obtaining a mortgage for the home located on Oak Avenue.
OH SNAP! We have a copy of a loan application signed over 20 times by Mr. Barrera himself on January 16, 2008! Even better, the loan application has Mr. Barrera's correct home address! Once this application was submitted, Citi Mortgage pulled Mr. Barrera's credit AGAIN and once again the credit monitoring services that Mr. Barrera religiously monitors fail to notify him of these inquiries? YEAH RIGHT!

It's not looking good for Mr. Barrera now is it? See, Mr. Barrera has a VERY UNIQUE signature making it very easy to identify, why hasn't the state investigated any of these facts? Why did Detective Baluja ignore these findings? Some may say that what we've outlined above could be coincidences, tomorrow I'll lay out more evidence that the states "victim" was indeed aware of what was going on with this fraud well before the closing for the home ever happened.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Columbus day and a provocative quote from one of the players in our story...

Didn't we all grow up being taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America? All the stories about how he made his journey over the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean then through the Caribbean only to stumble upon a new world. Amazing how years later it's been proven that Columbus wasn't the first to come to America, indeed there's proof that several hundred years earlier it was the Vikings that were the first Europeans that actually discovered the "new world", not to mention the indigenous peoples that were already here!

Yet all these years later, our children are still taught that Columbus was the first to discover the Americas! The reality is that he was hopelessly lost at sea and stumbled upon the "new world" which had already been discovered well before his time. Bizarre how some still cling to these beliefs even though there is proof to the contrary.

o why are we being lied to? How about the whole Weapons of Mass Destruction nonsense that lead up to the mess that we have in Iraq? Remember how the Bush administration LIED to the world about the existence of these weapons? How this country went to war with a country that DID NOT ATTACK US based on lies, half truths and fabricated evidence?

See, the Bush administration wanted Saddam so bad they were willing to do ANYTHING to get into a confrontation with Iraq, we now know they did the unthinkable, lie, cheat, deceive the American public just to be able to go to war. In retrospect the actions of the Bush administration that led up to the war were probably the most egregious acts of treason that any administration has ever committed against the American public. To make matters worse, any meaningful investigation into the misconduct by the administration has been thwarted by claims of "executive privilege", confidentiality, etc. For the people responsible for this war to hide behind these claims is downright cowardly, the entire process leading up to the war, all the paperwork, all the intelligence and everyone involved need to be open to public scrutiny so that we the people can understand what went on, who is to blame and what punishment is befitting of these criminals. In fact, one of the players involved in our mortgage fraud story felt so strongly about the matter, he wrote the following in response to an appearance that then Vice President Dick Cheney made at a veterans convention:
"Mr. Cheney is not only a hypocrite, but a coward. He was afraid of military service and “hid” from it, just like he hides in some undisclosed bunker at the first sign of trouble, just like Hitler and his ilk. He will be tried just like the Nazis when reason prevails. Thank you."
That right! Just like I said before, for these people to hide from responsibility for the LIES, MISREPRESENTATIONS OF TRUTH AND FABRICATION OF EVIDENCE IS DOWNRIGHT COWARDLY! Now, perhaps comparing them to Hitler and the Nazi's is a bit kind, I'm going to go a little further. I'm going to suggest people guilty of these behaviors, people who destroy others lives, people who take innocent peoples freedom and liberties, people who take away others very humanity all based on lies and misrepresentations of the truth are fit for a stronger punishment...

Don't fret peoples, there's a method to this madness, be patient. With that said, y'all have a great day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why rob a bank?

As we mentioned yesterday, from what's in the public record and the inactivity in the case file, we know that Michael Martinez is out on probation and it's safe to assume that John Romney has cut some sort of a deal as well. It's safe to draw this conclusion since there hasn't been a shred of evidence in the case file to show that he's done anything to defend himself in this criminal case, consider the charges for a moment:
I'm no lawyer but these sound like some serious charges don't they? Charges that you would be fighting with all your guns right? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Mr. Romney's cut a deal, why it isn't reflected in the public record is still a mystery to me. How do I know there had to be some sort of deal cut? If indeed I was in his shoes and was expecting some sort of prison time, would I be worried about what I was going to be doing over the next few years? If I was going to go in for a while would I have done this...

That's right ladies and gents! Mr. Romney has applied with the State of Florida Department of Professional Regulation for a Real Estate Brokers License!!!!

Now, do you think Mr. Romney needs that Brokers license in the slammer? No fcuking way, he's been given a free pass boys and girls! I'm going to bet he's going to get probation at worst. The question that begs to be asked here is "why rob a bank?" After all, if I go into a bank (even without a weapon) try to rob it then get caught, I'm bound to do some time! In the fraud that arose from the fraudulent purchase of the Oak Avenue home, Mr. Romney made AWAY WITH OVER $300,000! I'd really have to think long and hard about committing this kind of crime, after all, I can collect a six figure paycheck and only have to report once a month to a probation officer and maybe pee in a cup? $hit, for $300,000 I'LL TAKE IT!

It's bad enough that our criminal justice system is overloaded and is forced sometimes to cut deals with people who deserve to be behind bars, in this case though perhaps Mr. Romney's timing is in poor taste. In my opinion applying for this license while his criminal case was still pending (even though we now know that he's already cut a deal) is an outright slap in the face of the citizens of Miami Dade County let alone the law enforcement community.

Till next time...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A year later PEEPS!

So where's everyone at a year later? It looks like Michael Martinez (the guy who lent the straw buyer $125,000 then got paid back $135,000 from the seller of the Oak avenue property) cut a deal back in June and is now a free man! COOL! That leaves the man who was at the helm of this mortgage fraud disaster, John Romney and the attorney Delaila Estefano. Judging from what I've seen in the court files, there isn't one single shred of paper in there to suggest that Mr. Romney is defending himself, that could only mean one thing. Regardless, a year after the original arrests there isn't a plea entered yet on his behalf. The rest of the three folders that comprise this case file consist solely of defense paperwork, depositions, motions, etc for the attorney Delaila Estefano. Interesting huh?

A year later, does anyone know where Detective Baluja is? I was told that he spent the day in deposition yesterday, I wonder how that went? I'll have to wait till the transcript makes it into the court file so I can go through it, I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE WHAT'S THERE! I can only imagine though...

Sorry about not posting yesterday and keeping it short today, I found myself so sick yesterday that I couldn't leave my bed. I feel a little better today but it seems like as everyday that passes I seem to be loosing some more of my immunity...

Tomorrow we'll see what kind of deal Mr. Martinez cut and what Mr. Romney's been up to.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Budget cuts and other craziness...

We're all aware of the county wide budget cuts that are one of the consequences of the overall real estate meltdown. Everywhere you look there's some sort of public service at risk of losing its funding, whether it be a library, emergency service, parks and recreation cut backs, etc. One of the latest victims of the budget cuts seems to be the Miami Dade County Independent Review Panel, the Miami Herald discusses the proposed elimination of the panel here. Remember these guys? When Chief Burgess of the MDPD decided that the Internal Affairs findings in the Blanton Harris traffic accident were not sustainable, Mr. Harris pled his case in front of the IRP who not only found that Detective Baluja acted inappropriately, but also found that the Chief of police acted inappropriately as well. Imagine if the IRP wasn't around, what would have been the consequence? Officer Baluja's misdeeds would have gone unreported and unpunished. It's this mechanism that's gives transparency and accountability to the MDPD and the county's operations. Can you imagine how bad the powers that be would love to get rid of this panel? Without them, they have no one to answer to. Wouldn't that be nice? Imagine, if not for the IRP, we would have never known about Jorge Baluja's history of $hitty police work nor the reprimand that followed.

So here we are, tomorrow makes it one year from the date that David Ovalle wrote about the Barrera mortgage fraud arrests in the Herald. Where is everyone involved a year later? It seem's like a year is plenty of time to bring a convictions in the case, isn't it? I know at least one member of the Barrera mess is going to be under the gun tomorrow, let me give him some words of advice:
  1. Eat well tonight, we would hate to have to see you suffer with a bout of diarrhea.
  2. Sleep well, we don't want you waking up late and missing your appointment.
  3. Leave home early enough in the morning so as to take into account any potential traffic delays.
  4. Check your tire pressures, we would hate to think you might get a flat on the way in.
  5. Make sure you have enough fuel, maybe even carry a gallon of gas in the trunk just in case.
  6. Make sure you have jumper cables, in case your battery is dead in the morning.
  7. Make sure you have all your last minute undercover work out of the way before your appointment.
  8. Bring a dictionary so those big words don't get in your way.
In a nutshell buddy, we would hate to see you miss your appointment tomorrow...

Monday, October 5, 2009

An anniversary of sorts and some vocabulary words YO!

We passed a chilling milestone this past weekend, for those who didn't notice, I'm talking about October 3. October 3, 2008 was a pretty $hitty day if you were race car driver Helio Castroneves, his sister Katiucia Castroneves or his attorney Allan Miller who were charged with six counts of tax evasion by the feds. I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw Helio being paraded in hand cuffs and leg shackles, incredible! Luckily for Helio and crew they went to trial and on April 18, 2009 were acquitted, shortly thereafter Helio went on to win the Indy 500. Good on him. Oct 3, was a pretty $hitty for a couple of other Dade county residents and a local attorney, it was the day that the arrests in the Bernardo Barrera case were made. Nothing like that nasty ass police trick where they haul your ass to jail on a Friday hoping that you won't be able to make bail then causing you to sit your ass down in jail till Monday! Classy move on the part of the state YO! Naturally I wasn't aware of the Barrera case last Oct 3, I only became aware of it when the Miami Herald article came out on Tuesday October 7. I wonder what October 7, 2009 has in store for us? I'll do an update on Wednesday and see where everyone in the case is a full year later.

On to some words and phrases that I think are going to be relevant to our story, for today boys and girls, we have three words or phrases, they are:
  1. Belief Perseverance
  2. Confirmation Bias
  3. Nemesis
Let's start with the term Belief Perseverance;
"the tendency to cling to ones initial belief even after receiving new information that contradicts or dis-confirms the basis of that belief."
Fair enough, we've all been guilty of that at some point or another. In the context of our story, I'll have to admit we're guilty of Belief Perseverance, based on our initial experiences and impressions of Detective Jorge Baluja we here at the Straw Buyer are convinced he's a sub standard cop who at least in this case ran a piss poor investigation. Now, lets say some new information on a later case came to light that showed that contrary to our beliefs, Detective Baluja was a fantastic cop (YEAH RIGHT!), since we are predisposed to believe that he is a $hitty cop, no matter how much fantastic police work was brought before us, no matter how many stray cats he pulls out of trees, no matter how many who done it's he solves, we would be hard pressed to change our minds about Detective Baluja. In a nutshell, once our minds are made up, we're not going to change it! Here's a perfect example, no matter how many times you watch this video, some people will never believe that it's not someones ass that's being poked!

Moving on, let's now look at the term Confirmation Bias;
"an irrational tendency to search for, interpret or remember information in a way that confirms preconceptions or working hypotheses."
Huh? It's actually a lot easier to understand than you think, this is when people disproportionally look for and favor information that confirms their faulty theories or beliefs. Perhaps Sir Francis Bacon says it better than I can:

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion, draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises, or else by some distinction sets aside or rejects.
Ok, going back to the example Detective Baluja, no matter what kind of evidence we find, if we were guilty of confirmation bias, we would only see what would prove his incompetence as a investigator and completely neglect anything good that the facts would show. Interesting! Both Belief Perseverance and Confirmation Bias are two common types of cognitive bias that most everyone is guilty of, it's happened to me plenty of times. It's this kind of behavior that gave birth to the term "hard headed". Does anyone remember back in the Blanton Harris traffic accident investigation when Detective Baluja exhibited a textbook example of Confirmation Bias? No matter how many witnesses told him otherwise, no matter what the physical evidence told him, Detective Baluja was convinced that Mr. Harris was at fault for the accident and nothing would change his mind. Perfect example of confirmation bias.

Who cares about some sort of psychological mumbo jumbo that we're all guilty of? It's no big deal for normal folk, but what if you were a cop that was wrongly convinced of someones guilt? Imagine the consequences if a cop whose got the power to destroy your life incorrectly assumes that you're guilty of a crime? If indeed he's guilty of the cognitive biases that we've discussed, no matter what kind of evidence is in front of him, no matter what kind of witness testimony he's got, he's going to mold it and change it to suit his needs. Dangerous stuff friends! Unfortunately these psychological biases in law enforcement are the ones that can lead to misconduct.

Moving on to our last vocabulary word, Nemesis. For nemesis, I'm going to go outside the conventional definition offered by Websters dictionary, I prefer this one:
Nemesis-A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent.
Isn't that fantastic? You never know who that "appropriate agent" is going to be, maybe a cop, perhaps a prosecutor or maybe some jerk with a blog...

Big day coming up Jorge!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Some new names...

I've spent the day at the courthouse going through the case files for the fifteen names that one of our readers sent us, as I mentioned before the reader who keeps sending me this information would make my life a lot easier if they could enclose some information with the names rather than making me search myself! There is a ton of information to digest here, I'll be up all weekend just trying to trim it all down to something that we'll all be able to stomach. I tell you though, spending all this time at the courthouse, going through all these legal documents, understanding the charges, etc, sort of reminds me of this self educated lawyer...

We got a big week coming up, one of the members of the Barrera case is going to perform for us next week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Some stats and miscellaneous thoughts...

When we started our story a few months back, I really only had a handful of people as my target audience, 4 maybe 5 at most, anything beyond that would have been unimaginable. Early on when I set up the blog, I also set up a Google Analytics account to be able to track whats going on with the site. Unfortunately for me the setup process confounded me and I gave up after trying for two days to get the damn thing to work. Little did I know that nothing was showing up when I first set up the blog since there was no content and therefore no views! A few days ago on September 24, I was looking at another blog that had a mention of Google Analytics, so I decided to log on and see if I could get the Straw Buyer analytics account working, when I logged on I nearly $hit my pants! From August 24 to September 24 we had ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY TWO individual views! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? That's right, 1832 unique visitors to the site! Just who the hell did we catch checking our blog?

Amazing. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've received another email from a reader that likes to torture me, in this email I was given a list of 15 people that I can only assume in one way shape or form have been arrested for something related to mortgage fraud. I didn't have a chance to make it down to the courthouse yesterday to find out what was behind these names, but I'll do my best to do so today.

We mentioned something about the witching hour coming near the other day, did anyone understand what I was saying? I can't answer that riddle until next week, in the mean time, I wonder if there are any new investigations by the task force into the several million dollars of fraud and theft that we outlined here on the blog that went on in the grove? Somehow I doubt it!