Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So you committed mortgage fraud, made $10,000 and got caught...

Everyone remember co defendant Micheal Martinez from the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case?  Mr. Martinez was the man who lent Bernardo Barrera (or was it Barreira, Barriera or Barrero?) or the man who was posing as Mr. Barrera (or was it Barreira, Barriera or Barrero?) $125,000 as the down payment for the home located at 3390 Oak Avenue and in turn received a $10,000 profit for doing so.  So Mr. Martinez received $10,000 profit from this illegal scheme, who else have we read about recently that was convicted of stealing $10,000?  That's right, Pastor Gaston Smith was recently convicted and sentenced to 5 years of probation and five years of monitoring for stealing (or misappropriating) nearly the exact same amount of money as Mr. Martinez.

Granted Pastor Smith is a public figure that abused the public trust given to him by his community, but don't lose site of the fact that Mr. Martinez made his $10,000 through the heinous crime of MORTGAGE FRAUD, a crime so rampant here in South Florida that they had to form a special task force just to combat it.  With that in mind, one must wonder what kind of punishment veteran economic crimes prosecutor Bill Kostrzewski gave Mr. Martinez, let's take a look at that plea agreement...

Martinez Plea                                                            
Nice!  It sounds harsh doesn't it?  Take a look at #2:
2. The Court shall adjudicate defendant guilty and shall sentence defendant to two (2) years of Community Control, followed by three (3) years probation.
OUCH!  Look at #3
3. As a condition precedent to this agreement, defendant shall pay stipulated investigative costs to the Miami-Dade Police Department, Economic Crimes Bureau, in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).
YES!  $1,000 to the MDPD for all their hard work, moving on...
4.  As a condition precedent to this agreement defendant shall pay stipulated investigative costs of prosecution to the Office of the State Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit in the amount of one thousand hundred dollars ($1,000.00).
Sure, why not let the SAO get reimbursed for all the hours Mr. Kostrzewski spent on this case?!  
5.As a special condition of Community Control and probation, defendant shall perform one hundred (100) hours of Community Service at a rate of not less than eight (8) hours per month, as directed by the Department of Corrections.
Community service!  Right on.  Last but not least...
6. Defendant agrees that he is responsible for stipulated restitution in the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00) payable to Citi Mortgage, Inc. As a special condition of Community Control and probation, defendant shall make payments of not less than five hundred dollars ($500.00) per month to victim Citi Mortgage, Inc., or to its successor(s), or, in the event that Citi Mortgage, Inc., is reimbursed for its loss by title insurance, to its insurer of title.
COOL!  Even Citi Mortgage gets their money back!  All bases covered I guess.  That's pretty harsh, perhaps equally as harsh as what Pastor Smith got.  No matter how you cut it, it looks like Mr. Martinez is going to do 5 years worth of probation, but then comes this...
9. As a condition of Community Control, defendant may not petition the Court for conversion of Community Control to probation until the defendant has successfully
completed six (6) months of Community Control and is current in his payment of restitution, cost of supervision and his community service hours. Also as a condition of probation, defendant may not request early termination of probation for two (2) years from the date of this agreement and only if the defendant has successfully completed his requisite Community Control and probation, and has fully paid his restitution and satisfied his community service obligation and cost of supervision. Defendant agrees to extend the term of his probation to the statutory maximum to insure full payment of his restitution obligation.
In other words, if Mr. Martinez pays his restitution and is behaving, he can have the Community Control converted to regular probation and then if he fullfills his obligations under this agreement, he can petition the court to end his probation in just TWO YEARS!  Fantastic.  I wonder, did Pastor Smith get the same kind of deal?  Some deterent to people commiting Mortgage Fraud Mr. Kostrzewski.  Nice job.

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