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.