Monday, November 30, 2009


As we mentioned before the man the state alleges posed as Bernardo Barrera at the closing for the home that is at the center of our mortgage fraud story was never apprehended, worse still Detective Baluja never even looked for the impostor. Well, the Detective and the State Attorney refuse to solve that who done it, but not us here at the Straw Buyer! Through careful research we've been able to pick up a police sketch of the man who posed as Bernardo Barrera at the closing, here it is on the news from the other night...

Scary stuff folks! Doesn't it worry you that neither the police or Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski have ever made any effort to identify the impostor? Wouldn't it make sense to actually find and charge the man who was not only guilty of identity theft but was also an integral part of the "organized scheme to defraud?" Common sense right?

Moving right along, I came accross this article over the weekend, there's some strange coincidences in this article. There's a couple of things that strike me as strange, first we have ASA Bill Kostrzewski (oddly enough the same prosecutor whose prosecuting the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud Case) aligning himself with a bad cop (sound familiar?), I love this quote in particular regarding the bad cop...

"John is an intense guy. Whether it's a small or big case, he will see it to the end."
Funny, that reminds me of this quote Mr. Kostrzewski made regarding Detective Baluja right before he threw him under the bus (yes you read right Jorge)...
"He's young, but he means well..."
Oh, OK! Detective Baluja can blunder his way through an investigation, fabricate evidence and suborn perjury as well as perjure himself, but it's OK because he's young and "means well." Super! I'm sure a jury is going to love to hear that! The other strange coincidence is the date the story was published, did any of the astute readers among you pick up on that?

The saddest part of that story comes in the form of this quote from one of the people targeted by the dirty cop and the state attorney's office at the conclusion of the article...
"My wife left me because of this mess," he says during a recent meeting in his living room. "She couldn't take it. We lost everything."

He insists they are not criminals — despite the claims in Kostrzewski's 2004 memo. "After three, four years, they found nothing," Degrave says. "What proof do they have? None. There is no price on what I have lost."

That's heartbreaking. The criminal justice system wore the victims (defendants) down to the point of taking a plea, whether because of personal or financial reasons regardless of guilt or innocence. The sad part of this scenario is that a defendant has a finite amount of resources to fight criminal charges, on the other hand the state has infinite resources and dirty tricks at their disposal to make a prosecution, justified or not. More often than not a defendant (even an innocent one) has to take a plea to get out from under an overzealous prosection. That my friends is a bigger crime than anything we've discussed to date.

Anyone want to hear the most incredible swine flu story? If so, let me know, I promise a chuckle over this one...

Friday, November 27, 2009

A familiar voice...

After nearly six months of reading my rants here on this blog our readers have become familiar with my style and tone of writing. By now whether I'm writing about mortgage fraud or pruning ficus hedges, you've become familiar enough with my writing, my grammatical errors, my use of syntax and my other literal idiosyncrasies to be able to identify my writing, you could almost say that you can recognize my "voice" in my writing. That's easy enough, so what's the point?

After spending months and months pouring over all kinds of documents in the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud case file I seem to hear a common voice in almost all the state generated paperwork and most of the witness statements. Does that make sense? Detective Baluja's written statements, most of the typed witness statements and the state's information all sound like they're written by the same person. Confusing isn't it? Remember me saying something about Detective Baluja's testimony being heavily coached and practiced the other day? After reading all of the documents in the file, I'm beginning to think that not only is the Detective's testimony being heavily coached, now I'm convinced that there was someone else preparing all the witness statements and affidavits for the Detective. Is that Kosher Jorge? I don't think so! Let's not go so worked up now, it's the weekend after all, chill out...

So who could be the author of these documents? Whose voice reoccurs throughout the statements and affidavits in the court file? Is it the ghost of a mortgage fraud investigator from years past channeling himself through Detective Jorge Baluja? Is it a higher ranking member of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force that's watching over Jorge's shoulder or is it someone else from outside the PD that has a vested interest in this case? Let's see, I for one don't believe in ghosts and from what I've heard in the grapevine lately it certainly isn't someone from the MDPD, so who does that leave us with?

I'll leave you guys to ponder that over the weekend...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Comments and TURKEY!

I can't stand turkey, YUCK! Thanksgiving does give us a chance to sit down and go through some of the comments our readers have been leaving on our posts, let's take a peek at what some of our readers have written:

From our visit to Oak Avenue post:

No shit Mr. Romney! If not for the bust outs you and your friends did in the Grove, the home would never have been assessed that high! DUH!

A very eloquent comment on one of our many suspicious Bernardo Barrera posts:

YEP! That sums it up pretty well. If it's that obvious to someone who just got introduced to the case then why doesn't anyone in the PD or the State Attorneys Office get it?

From my NEW CAR post...

Yes sir, I understand that its a Bentley and not a Hyundai, if you didn't get the sarcasm in that post, please go back and reread again.

From the motion in the court to COMPEL Detective Baluja to show up for his deposition...

I'm sorry, I completely forgot. Next time I'm down at the court house I'll make copies and post it up. Sorry.


We got it thanks, selective prosecution by a morally deficient prosecutor is a common theme in our blog.

These are all comments from the Lack of Headlines about the Roger Besu arrest post...

No, I really don't have anything better to do, Ha, ha!

Ok, then. Don't be shy, tell us how you really feel!

Amazing how his bail went from $5 million to just $50,000 and a promise to show up.

With the money he stole and the various scams that he pulled, he's going to be just fine. I doubt he'll do any time at all.

From the "why rob a bank" post...

Boy that sounds familiar doesn't it? Sounds a lot like a certain curmudgeon that we know that follows this blog with an above average interest...


Very nice, I beg to differ though, I think "asshat" is an unfair characterization of Detective Baluja, I find "assclown" much more appropriate. Yes, I agree to the last post as well, there is no way that Detective Baluja pulled off this caper on his own.

Last but not least, from the "what is identity theft" post...

Yes sir, it is crazy. This whole story is crazy. The lack of action on the part of the MDPD Detective Baluja in to account for his actions is crazy. The lack of action from the State Attorneys Office to bring the ASA involved in this case in to account for his actions is CRAZY. From the Detective that can't get the name of the victim right (what is it Jorge, Bernardo Barreira, Bernardo Barrero or Rolando Barrero?) to the ASA who doesn't know the facts of his own case, this whole mess is crazy.

I do appreciate the comments though, I know we have plenty of readers (check the stats from October here) so it's nice to see the comments and see what you guys think of what's going on. For those who've emailed me ( thanks, I appreciate the compliments and the encouragement you've given us. If there's anyone that would like to contact us and maintain their anonymity do so by using the comment function at the end of each blog post, it's simple and can be done anonymously.

Have a happy holiday folks. We'll see you on Friday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Does Jorge Baluja understand what Identity Theft is?

Isn't that a simple question? Does the lead detective in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case know what "Identity Theft" is? We discussed the definition in yesterdays post, regardless though, the very phrase is simple to understand as it's self explanatory, isn't it? As I've mentioned before, I've spent countless hours in the courthouse going through the Barrera mortgage fraud case file, among other things in the file are the depositions of Detective Jorge Baluja. As I've said in earlier posts, there's a ton of comedic material in those transcripts as Detective Baluja seemingly doesn't know his ass from his elbow when asked about this case. Now this is a pretty serious allegation isn't it? After all, a lead detective in a case of this nature has the power to destroy peoples lives, even worse, if he makes mistakes or doesn't understand the nature of the case and the crimes that he alleges have been committed, he's opening up himself and the state for a boat load of problems.

We've already seen that Detective Baluja has no understanding of the basic fundamentals of Real Estate transactions or the business of Mortgages, we've also outlined that he has very little understanding if any of Mortgage Fraud, we've even uncovered an easy step by step pictoral guide to the "typical mortgage fraud scheme" prepared by the Mortgage Fraud Task force and still we've yet to uncover a single stitch of evidence to support that Detective Baluja had any understanding whatsoever of what he was doing in this case. Yesterday we discussed the crime of "identity theft", we know (at least as lay people) what the elements of that crime are, I.E., stealing someones identity, producing fake documentation to pose as the person who is being impersonated and then somehow deriving a financial (or other) gain that you were not otherwise entitled to. Pretty simple isn't it? Can it get easier than that? Now what if I tell you that based on what I've read, Detective Baluja HAS NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what the elements of the crime of identity theft are? Keep in mind folks, that before the good detective goes into these depositions that he is HEAVILY COACHED AND PREPARED FOR HOURS by Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski on the case, how he's to behave in the depo and what he's supposed to answer, knowing that and considering how much preparation goes into getting ready for the deposition, HOW THE HELL COULD YOU NOT KNOW WHAT IDENTITY THEFT IS?

So here we go, when Detective Jorge Baluja is asked what makes the defendant (at least the attorney) guilty of Identity Theft he responds with this gem:

There it is folks, in Detective Baluja's mind accepting a third party check for the closing for the purchase of the Oak Avenue home satisfied the elements of the crime of Identity Theft. In what bizarro parallel universe does that make sense? Accepting a third party check constitutes IDENTITY THEFT?! This is the same Detecitve Baluja that was given a commendation by Major Juan Odio for his investigatory skills?! WHAT THE FCUK?

We've established after several months of writing that Detective Baluja posses a less than stellar intellect, the question that begs to be asked though is who the hell was watching over him at the PD? How can this level of misconduct go on without someone supervising him? Isn't there a system of checks and balances in place at the police level to stop someone like Detective Baluja from putting together a case whose crimes he has no understanding of? Even worse, if there is no one at the PD level to review his work, isn't the state attorney supposed to vet the cases before they move forward? After all folks, we're talking about life changing events here! I'm sure that before you move forward with charging folks with crimes as serious as these you use an abundance of caution, DON'T YOU?

At this point in time anyone reading this blog from it's inception should be furious. Why doesn't one of the readers from law enforcement or the state attorneys office explain to us HOW THE HELL SOMETHING LIKE THIS IS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN? How is a thoroughly incapable cop allowed to fumble his way through a case, make up evidence (yes you read that right) and throw together charges that he DOESN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND? Worse yet, how is this allowed to progress without one of his superiors at the very least asking him if he even understood what the FCUK he was doing?

Is this what the mayor's heralded Mortgage Fraud Task Force stands for? After all that we've read about Glenn Theobald's ground breaking mortgage fraud legislation and creation of this task force, is Detective Baluja's work on this case a fair representation of Mr. Theobalds efforts? After all we've learned about Sgt. Richard Davis, his fantastic police work (at least in what we read in the David Rodriguez case), his training of detectives on the task force, is it fair to characterize his efforts through Detective Baluja's behavior in this case? In my opinion what we've learned about Detective Baluja's handling of this case is SHAMEFUL, both to himself and to all those who worked tirelessly to create the Mortgage Fraud Task Force.

So the question that begs to be asked is when is someone (other than an idiot with a blog) going to do something about this? Shouldn't there be some sort of reaction within the PD to the allegations I've made here? I for one doubt anything will happen no matter how badly Detective Baluja's performance has reflected on the MDPD and the Mortgage Fraud Task Force.

Till next time folks, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Identity theft. What is it?

What exactly is identity theft? Among the three charges brought upon the defendants in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case, this is the charge that carries the harshest penalty, from what I understand the charge carries a lengthy minimum mandatory sentence. At the very least we owe it to ourselves to fully understand what the charge means, let's take a look and see what we find. Let's begin by checking the definition of Identity Theft as it appears in Wikipedia:
Identity theft is a term used that is to refer to fraud that involves someone pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits.
That's fairly straightforward isn't it? Pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits. I wonder, is that how Detective Baluja defines Identity Theft? (We'll wait till some new documents are available tomorrow before we address that question.) This isn't what we talked about yesterday when we talked about the guy who claimed that "homeboy stole my credit card and bought some stuff", this involves actually stealing someones identity and posing as that person through fraudulent documents (IE fake drivers license, fake social security card, etc) to achieve some sort of monetary gain. By now we're familiar enough with the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud case to know that there was (according to the state) an impostor who stole Bernardo Barrera's identity and posed as Mr. Barrera at the closing for the purchase of the Oak Avenue home who then with his co conspirators subsequently defrauded Citi Mortgage out of over $480,000.

With that said, I have one important question for Detective Jorge Baluja and Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski, WHERE'S THE MAN WHO POSED AS BERNARDO BARRERA AT THE CLOSING FOR THE OAK AVENUE HOME PURCHASE? Let's take a look at the players involved to date:

  1. John Romney - The man who paid $185,000 for the home located at 3390 Oak Avenue who six days later resold it for $600,000 to a man who according to the state had stolen Bernardo Barrera's identity. According to the Miami Herald article, Mr. Romney made $369,896.88 from this transaction.
  2. Michael Martinez - The man who lent the "straw buyer" or the man who impersonated Bernardo Barrera (supposedly) at the closing the down payment to close on the fraudulent sale and mortgage. According to the Miami Herald article, Mr. Martinez made $135,000 from the transaction.
  3. Delaila Estefano - The attorney whose office closed the transaction involving the Oak Avenue purchase and mortgage. Neither the Miami Herald article or the information the state filed in the criminal case alleges that the attorney made any money off of the transaction. Our examination of the closing documents in the states case file shows that the attorney pocketed $1,270 in fees for the closing.
OK, we have the seller, the guy who lent the down payment and the attorney that closed the transaction, so where's the guy who actually posed as Bernardo Barrera at the closing that stole his identity? It looks to me that the state arrested everyone that could possibly identify the impostor, so WHERE'S THE DAMN IMPOSTOR? Why hasn't the man who is actually guilty of identity theft been arrested?

Does this make any sense to anyone? As far as I can see, it makes as much sense as anything else in this story has. I suspect the answer to this riddle is going to come in the tomorrow, perhaps the Detective and the Assistant State Attorney that put this case together don't know what Identity Theft is. Can you imagine that?

Let's take a quick look at our instruments to see where we're at...


Monday, November 23, 2009

Just the facts please, the way I want you to state them. SAY WHAT?!

Witness statements, in my opinion as a civilian these statements would seem like the foundation for any criminal investigation. In the MDPD there's a witness statement form that comes BLANK that's given to the witness to fill out.

As it's explained to me by several different law enforcement officers, you're to give the witness this form and ask them to fill it out the facts of the crime to the best of their recollection WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT. That makes sense doesn't it? After all, this statement is to be in their words, their recollection of events not in the Detectives words or how the detective wants things stated. It's pretty straight forward isn't it?

Now, let's take a look at a purely hypothetical situation, let's say that someone reports their credit card stolen and finds out while the card was missing someone purchased some merchandise with the stolen credit card. The victim calls the cops, they show up, debrief the victim and then ask him to fill out a MDPD statement form. Now, let's just say that the victim isn't the smartest or most articulate person in the world and renders the following statement:
"homeboy stole my credit card and bought some stuff."
That's it?! The witness isn't the most eloquent person in the world but he did sum up the crime in one sentence didn't he? His credit card went missing and someone made some purchases using the credit card, short and sweet! What good does that statement do the cops? It's restating the obvious, but let's say they know who took the card and purchased the "stuff", doesn't this statement make their job a little more difficult? Wouldn't it be nice if the victims statement could speak directly to the elements of the crime? Like I said before, I was told that the cops are not supposed to meddle or participate in the writing of the witness statement. Imagine if that same witness gave a statement that looked like this:
On October 3, 2008 I discovered that my American Express credit card card # 3715-357741-92130 exp 12/12 was missing from my wallet that was located on my kitchen table in my home which is located at 1351 NW 12th street, Miami Florida 33125. The person who stole my credit card went later that day at approximately 2 pm to the Brandsmart located at 4320 NW 167th street, Miami Florida 33054 and purchased two 52" LG flatscreen TV serial #908RMFP237195 and serial #908RMCJ237323. The Brandsmart security cameras show the televisions being taken out of the store and being loaded into a black 2005 ford F150 four door Florida license plate number 412-ewr which drove to a pawn shop located at 9800 NW 27th avenue, Miami Fl 33147. The Brandsmart security cameras identify the subject as being the victims roommate Rolando Barrero.
Imagine reading something that precise on a witness statement? A statement that speaks to the elements of the crime, has essential details necessary for preparing a warrant and clearly lays out what happened for the prosecutor? This statement seems a lot more useful than "homeboy stole my credit card and bought some stuff" doesn't it? As nice as that statement is, how likely is it that it came from said victim? Or even worse, does that sound like something a witness who wasn't the victim would say? In my humble opinion that sounds like a statement that was heavily coached or even dictated by the cops, now that would go against everything I've been told about how these statements are collected.

What does this hypothetical situation have to do with our discussion of Mortgage Fraud? Am I accusing Detective Jorge Baluja of coaching a witness during the writing of a witness statement? What do you think? That's right boys and girls, not only am I accusing Detective Baluja of dictating to a witness what to write on their statement, I'm going to go one step further and suggest that when he wasn't satisfied with what the witness stated, he went on to write a new statement himself.

Now maybe I'm stupid, if you're going to dictate what a witness is to put in a statement or worse, write the statement yourself, what's the point in even taking the statement? Why not just sit there and write it from the comfort of your office and put in whatever the hell you want without having to deal with that pesky witness? WHOOPS! That isn't what happened now is it Jorge? You didn't dictate what to write to a witness in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case now did you? That would be wrong wouldn't it Jorge? Worst of all Jorge, do you think I'd make this kind of accusation without proof? Don't worry, I'll "refresh your memory" a little later this week.

Looks like I'll have to call Internal Affairs today and get some clarification on this subject. Till tomorrow...

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's friday, how do you find our blog?

Another week flies by, another week of hilarity. Our first stop in our story today is the question "how do you find our blog?" There are several ways, you could go to:

That's a pain in the ass though, right after creating the blog I realized that wouldn't work out for most so I went ahead and registered the following web address:

That's certainly a lot easier than typing in all that other crap and it's easier to remember as well. How else can you get to the site? Well, among other things you can google "the straw buyer" or many of the other key words we use in the title or the body of our posts, that's fine too. Now, there's another reader here that logs on twice, sometimes three times a day, but the way this reader gets to the site is rather suspicious, this reader first goes to google and types in the following phrase:
Detective Jorge Baluja
These are the results that are returned by google as it appears on his computer screen:

From here the reader selects the first result which always lands him at this page:

Now, whoever this is that googles "Detective Jorge Baluja" two, sometimes three times a day is really missing out, let me help you out.

See, this site is updated with new posts at least 5 times a week, by googling "Detective Jorge Baluja" all you're doing is going back to the post from Sept 18, 2009. That's no fun now is it? Just go ahead and find that little box at the top of your screen that looks like this:

See the part that's outlined in red? Once you've found that, go ahead and type in the following:

Now that you've typed that in, go ahead and hit the key that says "enter" like this one:

And VIOLA! You're at the newest post! Isn't that easy?! I'm not sure who this is that keeps googling "Detective Jorge Baluja" several times a day (insert sarcastic laugh here), at the very least though we've made the job of finding our blog much easier for him/her.

Moving right along, does anyone remember this little gem?

I can't watch that enough. Now can you imagine someone speaking like that about the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud case? Even worse, sounding like that in a room full of people? Imagine now that the person that opened their mouth and spouted nonsense regarding this case for over 45 minutes wasn't our favorite detective...

One last bit, lately we've been getting comments on our blog posts! Keep them coming!! I don't track IP's and I certainly don't care what you say, good bad or indifferent. The blog is interactive, so I'd love to hear more from the people that I KNOW ARE READING.

Have a great weekend ya'll!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I don't recall. A common thread with Detective Jorge Baluja...

Everyone remember the Blanton Harris traffic accident investigation that introduced us to Detective Baluja's keen investigative skills? I know we've beat that story to death, but for $hits and giggles, let's take a look at one aspect of that story that we didn't investigate before, the Internal Affairs investigation, specifically a summary of the IA investigators interview of Jorge Baluja. Here's a page from the IA interview summary:

Now, it seems from this report that Detective Baluja DOESN'T REMEMBER ANYTHING! In fact not only does he draw a complete blank regarding the entire incident, he can't even remember if he was working that day. From the report...

OK!, he's shown pictures of the drivers involved then shown pictures of one of the witnesses, to which he still indicates that he doesn't recall anything about this accident! Let's take a closer look at how the investigator tried to "refresh" his memory...

Does it get any better than that? Detective Baluja is shown FIFTY THREE PHOTOS OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE, photos of the drivers involved and photos of the witnesses involved AND HE STILL DOESN'T RECALL ANYTHING REGARDING THIS ACCIDENT?

This is where I have to give comedic points to the Internal Affairs investigator, feeling stifled by Detective Baluja's answers and his lack of recollection of the incident, the investigator goes on to suggest that there maybe a Baluja look alike or perhaps another Jorge Baluja on the MDPD!

That's precious isn't it? Can you imagine the horror of another Jorge Baluja in the PD? YIKES! Despite Jorges assertions of not even knowing if he was there, his partner provides proof in the form of another accident report that indeed he was working that day and that he had responded to another accident as a back up the same day. As we'll see later, it's Jorge's M.O. to try to weasel out of responsibility, in fact the investigator in this case sums up the interview by saying:
"that he did not have any independent recollection of the incident after evading all the materials provided"
I like that word, "evading". The good detective can't remember a mess he created just 18 months prior that ended up with him getting investigated by internal affairs, even after there's a mountain of evidence put in front of him to "refresh" his memory. Not remembering is one thing, but "evading" answering question pertaining to a case is something else all together different.

Jorge, how can you put together a case and be expected to testify with such a bad memory? Do you have trouble finding your way to work in the morning? How the hell do you remember where to go? Does someone have to remind you to breath? How do you remember how to find this blog? (more on that tomorrow, you'll laugh your ass off when you find out how Jorge gets to this blog every day.)

Once again, another arrow in the quill of a defense attorney working against Detective Baluja.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I SWEAR! I KNOW NOTHING! Or so Bernardo Barrera says...

The man who claimed his identity was stolen for the purchase of the Oak Avenue home that's the center of this mess is one hell of a letter writer! Not only did Mr. Barrera sell Detective Baluja on him being the victim of fraud in this case, but he goes on to tell the court (in the foreclosure case) in detail that he had nothing to do with the purchase of the home! We have our own ideas about this (here and here), regardless let's take a look at some of the correspondence between Mr. Barrera and the court...

He didn't know anything about the purchase of the Oak Avenue home, I get it. Let's pay specific attention to the following:

Ok, he knows nothing. He goes on to say:

Here Mr. Barrera establishes that he receives mail from Citi Mortgage at his home address regarding the fraudulent purchase and the process involved with dealing with the so called "identity theft". Fantastic! After all, you would expect Mr. Barrera to open ANY AND ALL LETTERS FROM CITI MORTGAGE WOULDN'T YOU? Really, who wouldn't open a letter from a bank? Best case there's a check in there for you or maybe a credit card, worst case you owe them money! Either way, you're going to open the letter aren't you? Let's take a look at that letter from Citi mortgage that Mr. Barrera references in his letter to the circuit court...

OK, let's take a closer look at the address that Citi Mortgage mailed that letter to:

Now we've clearly established that Mr. Barrera (aka Barrero) receives mail at his primary residence located at 16562 SW 48th terrace, Miami Florida, 33185. Wonderful! Let's go back to that snippet from the letter Mr. Barrera wrote the court (which mimics what he wrote in his statement to Detective Jorge Baluja):

You sure about that Bernie? Detective Baluja, are you following along? He clearly states he had no participation or knowledge of the purchase of the home located at 3390 Oak Avenue. Are we clear? ONCE AGAIN, HE HAD NO IDEA THAT A "FRAUDULENT" CLOSING TOOK PLACE ON FEBRUARY 19, 2008 WHERE SOMEONE USED HIS IDENTITY. With me so far folks? Remember, we've clearly established that Mr. Barrera receives letters from Citi Mortgage at his primary residence. Let's take a look at this letter...

Well lookie here JORGE! It's a Truth in Lending Statement sent to Mr. Barrera for the mortgage on the Oak Avenue home that he wasn't aware of! Look at the date and the address the letter was sent Detective (hah!) Baluja!

That's right Jorge! January 25, 2008 NEARLY TWO MONTHS BEFORE HE FILED HIS POLICE REPORT! And what address is that Jorge? 16562 SW 48th Terrace Miami, Fl 33185, MR. BARRERA'S CORRECT HOME ADDRESS! Ok, let's give both Mr. Barrera and Detective Baluja the benefit of the doubt, perhaps this letter made it's way through the cracks and never reached Mr. Barrera. Then how do you explain this...

WHAT THE FCUK IS THAT JORGE?! A commitment letter from Citi Mortgage mailed directly to Mr. Barrera's primary residence clearly spelling out the terms of this loan for the Oak Avenue home that he had no idea about! WHAT THE FCUK JORGE?! Look at the date, JANUARY 29, 2008, STILL NEARLY TWO MONTHS BEFORE BARRERA FILED THE POLICE REPORT! Ok, let's say that the first letter fell through the cracks, for $hits and giggles, let's say that the dog ate this one, then what about this...

OH $HIT! ANOTHER COMMITMENT LETTER FROM CITI MORTGAGE SENT DIRECTLY TO MR. BARRERA'S PRIMARY RESIDENCE! WTF?! Look at the date, January 31, 2009! WELL BEFORE HE CLAIMED HIS IDENTITY WAS STOLEN! OK, again, let's say that the first letter fell through the cracks, the dog ate the second letter and some how this third one got jammed in the back of the mailbox and was never found, but then what about this...

HOLY $HIT! ANOTHER COMMITMENT LETTER! WTF JORGE x 1,000,000,000!!!!!!!! Again, the letter was sent to Mr. Barrera's primary residence and once again, well before he claims he found out his identity was stolen. Play along with me, the first letter got lost, the dog ate the second letter, the third one got jammed in the back of the mailbox and perhaps one of the fraudsters who "supposedly" stole Mr. Barrera's identity intercepted this one before Bernie got to it, but then what about this...


Ladies and gents, what I propose here today is worse than the fraudsters defrauding Citi Bank, what I've proven today is that Mr. Bernardo Barrera perpetrated a fraud on the Miami Dade Police Department, the Mayors Mortgage Fraud Task Force and the Court. Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see that there is no way shape or form that Mr. Barrera wasn't aware of the purchase and closing of the home at the center of this supposed "fraud". Unfortunately for us, Mr. Barrera had the dumb luck of getting Detective Baluja to investigate this case, a Detective so gullible that he bought Mr. Barrera's story hook, line and sinker. Shame on you Detective Baluja, your oversight of these documents are an embarrassment to all the fine men and women that you work with.

As if all of this wasn't bad enough, you know what makes this all the more embarrassing for Detective Baluja? See, these documents didn't come to me out of the blue or because of some fantastic investigative work that I did, what makes this worse for Detective Baluja IS THAT ALL OF THESE DOCUMENTS CAME OUT OF HIS OWN FILE. That's right folks, Detective Baluja had all of these documents well before he made any arrests in the Barrera mortgage fraud case.

No funny pictures today folks, just embarrassment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let's do some simple math.

Anyone remember the Miami Herald article from back in October 7, 2008 regarding the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud arrests? Like I've said time and time again, something just didn't seem right about that article and the way it was written. Today, let's look at the numbers Mr. Ovalle quoted:
"From Estefano's escrow account, $369,896.88 was paid to Romney, and $135,000 was kicked back to Martinez's bank account."
That's pretty clear isn't it? Anyone who read that quote that Mr. Ovalle had written would conclude that their was $369,896.88 paid out to Mr. Romney from the attorneys escrow account and an additional $135,000 paid out to Mr. Martinez from the attorneys escrow account. That would make a total of $504,896.88 paid out from the attorneys escrow account, pretty easy to follow. Let's take a look at the closing statement for the purchase of the Oak Avenue home (which by the way is available for all to see at the court house) and see if we can make the numbers work. According to the closing statement, Mr. Romney borrowed the money for the initial purchase of the Oak Avenue home, it's reflected here:

Ok, that's fairly normal, so let's add that to the numbers we mentioned above. Let's see, we had the following (according to Mr. Ovalle and the Miami Herald):

  • $369,896.88 Paid to John Romney from attorneys escrow account
  • $135,000.00 Paid to Michael Martinez from attorneys escrow account
  • $194,450.98 Payoff of first mortgage loan

That makes a total of $699,347.86 which does not include closing costs! Does anyone see the problem here? Let's go back to that closing statement for a moment:

That's right folks! The sales price of the home was only $600,000.00! Even if you disregard the other costs associated with the closing, according to the Herald there's nearly an extra $100k in there! WTF? That don't make no sense! So where did this error come from? We know that Mr. Ovalle screwed up when he wrote his article and we already know that Mr. Ovalle didn't do any research on the story when he wrote it. More than likely Mr. Ovalle was given a press release which he copied verbatim for his article (remember that word VERBATIM Jorge?). This makes you wonder, who wrote that press release? Did that press release come from the MDPD? Or did the press release come from assistant state attorney Bill Kostrzewski who worked on the case? Regardless, as with just about every other aspect of this story, SOMEONE FCUKED UP.

Monday, November 16, 2009

We need a good analogy, let's go flying!

I'm in a relatively good mood today, if nothing else, I made it through Friday the 13th unscathed! Today's rant is going to be short and sweet, I've been trying to figure out a simple way to illustrate what Detective Jorge Baluja has done in creating the Bernardo Barrera Mortgage Fraud investigation and his subsequent arrests, yet I haven't been able to come up with a proper analogy to illustrate just how little he knew about Mortgage Fraud and how badly he screwed up. Then last night it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Let's take a look at the cockpit of this Boeing 707 for a moment...

Good lord! Now, I'm assuming that our readers are a reasonably intelligent bunch, if you've had the patience to follow this story this long, I'm going to guess that you're a little smarter than the average guy. Imagine now that you are of a somewhat diminished mental capacity and you're thrust into the cockpit of this plane, you're given a couple of days worth of training on how to operate the plane and then your thrown out on the tarmac and expected to fly! Look at all those levers and buttons! What about all those gauges?! It takes years of schooling, training and flying with a competent pilot before you're able to fly something this complicated. Also take into account that there are some out there that just don't have the mental capacity to handle something this complicated.

Now you're asking yourself, WTF does this have to do with Jorge Baluja and Mortgage Fraud investigations? My theory is that the investigation of Mortgage and Real Estate fraud is nearly as complicated as flying that 707, whether you're flying that plane or conducting a complicated investigation, if you don't have the smarts, the know how and the training (let alone the common sense) the results are going to be disasterous.

Alright then, we know how Detective Baluja with his vast knowledge of Mortgage and Real Estate fraud did when he put together the Bernardo Barerra Mortgage fraud case, let's see if he fares any better flying this Boeing 707. Buckle up!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Glenn Theobald and his Mortgage Fraud Task Force.

So where did this Mortgage Fraud Task Force come from? We all know that during the boom years of the South Florida real estate market, fraud was rampant. Whether it was bogus mortgages, inflated sales prices, cash back schemes, whatever, it seemed like you couldn't get away from it. From what I've gleaned from the few resources that are available online, Glenn Theobald of the Miami Dade Police Department took it upon himself to draft and lobby the state for the passage of Florida State Statute 817.545 which gave law enforcement the teeth to attack the Mortgage Fraud that was running rampant in our county and state. It's through this vital piece of legislation that the Miami Dade County Mortgage Fraud Task force was born.

Now, you have to ask yourself, how the hell did a cop pull something like this off? We need to take a look at who Mr. Theobald is! From what I've learned Mr. Theobald was a Miami Dade Police officer who rose through the ranks while putting himself through college and subsequently law school! HOLY $HIT! This man is a criminals worse enemy! A SMART COP! Even worse, if there isn't a law on the books to bust the bad guys, HE CAN MAKE NEW ONES TO NAIL YOUR A$$ WITH! DAMN! Not only is Mr. Theobald a role model to other cops (at least in my opinion), he's also a role model to the entire community. We need more people like this on the police force in my opinion, an individual like this can go on to become a community leader, perhaps beyond the police force, as a matter of fact, from what I've read, Mr. Theobald was in the running to replace Ken Jenne for Broward sheriff a few years back. Too bad he didn't nail that job though, if he did maybe the events of late involving Fort Lauderdale attorney and influence peddler Scott Rothstein would have unfolded a bit differently...

Regardless though, we know through reading about other mortgage fraud cases executed by the task force that there are GOOD cops doing good police work in that task force. Remember the case of attorney David Rodriguez that Sgt Richard Davis put together? I mean that case was right out of the cop shows you see on TV, under cover work and everything. Now we see that kind of work that Mr. Theobald has done in combating mortgage fraud, so we have to ask ourselves how can we reconcile the behavior of Detective Jorge Baluja? We've seen that he can't put together an accident investigation, he has a history of suborning perjury, he doesn't know the first thing about real estate or mortgage fraud and his testimony would not hold up in any court of law, so how the hell did this guy slip through the cracks and tarnish the sterling image of Mr. Theobald and his Mortgage Fraud Task Force? Even worse, how did Detective Baluja go on to get a commendation for his investigatory skills?

Moving right along, it's Friday and it's a big day in local news. City of Miami Commisoner Michelle Spence Jones is scheduled to surrender herself to police on charges of grand theft, amazing after all her speaches and grandstanding about being sure she was going to be cleared of allegations of wrong doing. In the private sector, Juan Delgado, the owner of Delant Construction, is scheduled to surrender himself on charges of creating bogus billing for county projects. What do both of these stories have in common Mr. Kostrzewski?


Have a nice weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A template for mortgage fraud.

Remember that masterfully prepared flowchart outlining a "typical mortgage fraud" that we looked at yesterday? Take another peek at it if you will. Now, let's go through each step and see what we learn.

Step #1

Ok, so far I follow, in the case of the Bernardo Barrera fraud this would be the purchase of the home on Oak Avenue by John Romney for $185,000. Let's now move on...

Step #2

Subject has the property fraudulently appraised. SAY WHAT?! This is the first time we're hearing ANYTHING ABOUT A FRAUDULENT APPRAISAL! WTF?! According to what we read in the media and in statements made in both the criminal court case and the civil foreclosure case, it was the states assertion that the attorney that handled the closing
"fraudulently inflated the value of the home three fold"
I don't know Mr. Baluja, Mr. Kostrzewski, was the attorney also a licensed appraiser whose appraisal was submitted to the bank that financed the fraudulent purchase?! INTERESTING TO SAY THE LEAST! Moving right along...

Step #3

Ok, in the case of the Oak Avenue home the straw buyer would be Bernardo Barrera and or the impostor who the state claims came to the closing, we've shown that there is a cloud of suspicion over this claim several times over the last few months (here and here) but the state attorneys office refuses to do anything about it. That's fine though. There is a step missing here though, the involvement with the mortgage broker. I'm not suggesting that there's any wrong doing on the brokers part, but at the very least somewhere along the line there was documentation that was submitted to the bank along with the application for the mortgage that had to be fabricated, not to mention that someone had to take the application from the real/fake Bernardo Barrera. Regardless, let's move on...

Step #4

PAID!!!! HELL YES! According to what we know from the Miami Herald article, John Romney pockets $369,896.88 and his accomplice (the man who lent the straw buyer the down payment for the home purchase) collected $135,000. According to the states paperwork, the attorney who closed the transaction made off with a whopping, ground breaking ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY DOLLARS. OK, perhaps times are tough, you got to take whatever you can get right? Let's keep going...

Step #5

Right on, there wasn't a single payment made on the Oak Avenue home, after all, Mr. Barrera claimed ID theft a month after the closing, theoretically never giving the people behind the fraud a chance to make a payment. Last but not least that brings us to...

Step #6

Yep, in our case the bank is left with a $450,000+ mortgage on a house that will more than likely sell at the foreclosure auction for less than $20,000. As we mentioned before though, the bank isn't the only victim, it's the neighborhood that suffers a worse fate. Now the neighbors have to deal with a nasty dilapidated home that becomes a haven for undesirables, if that wasn't bad enough they also have to suffer the financial consequences of this bust out, HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES!

So what happened Detective Baluja? Where's the other people that should have been part of your "ORGANIZED SCHEME TO DEFRAUD"? Where are the other people that benefited from this fraudulent transaction? You basically had a fill in the blank pictoral guide to work with and you couldn't pull it off? Fantastic. I know this isn't the way the rest of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force works, especially after reading about the kind of work people like Sgt Davis did in the David Rodriguez case.

According to the clerk of courts website, tomorrow is the day that John Romney (yes the man that cleared $369,896.88 from this fraud) is going to enter his plea, get a slap on the wrist and get sent on his merry way. Any chance of justice being done will go up in smoke tomorrow morning at 9 am.