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...

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