Monday, July 12, 2010

The buck stops where?

You've all heard that old saying but what exactly does it mean when we're talking about committing a crime?  If during the course of writing this blog somehow I commit a crime, could you imagine the CEO of Google getting arrested?  Sure the company that provides the template for this blog may have some civil liability if I go nuts and commit a crime, but how could they have any criminal liability?

Could you imagine if Detective Jorge Baluja were to have committed a crime during the course of one of his investigations?  Would the police chief arrested for the Detective's crimes?  Or worse, if a prosecutor like Bill Kostrzewski were to commit a crime during the course of a prosecution, would it make sense for his supervisors to get arrested for his criminal acts?  Sure the supervisors might have some sort of civil liability, but unless they were actually directing the criminal activity, how could they have any criminal liability?

So where am I headed with this rambling Monday morning post?  In the case of the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud, the attorney whose office conducted the closing for the sale of the Oak Avenue home from John Arthur Romney to Bernardo Barrera was arrested and according to prosecutor Kostrzewski was part of an "organized scheme to defraud".  For the last two years both Detective Baluja and Prosecutor Kostrzewski have beat the following statement into our heads...
"She's guilty of mortgage fraud because she didn't follow closing instructions"
Again and again throughout the arrest affidavit, depositions and hearings we hear that "didn't follow closing instructions" line over and over.  Some of our readers have mentioned that not following closing instructions may not rise to the level of criminality, I don't know the law well enough to judge, but if indeed it doesn't rise to the level of criminality, then how could they have arrested the attorney?  According to Detective Baluja and Prosecutor Kostrzewski the attorney was guilty because she conducted the closing and in the course of doing so didn't follow the closing instructions set forth in the lenders closing instructions.  Now, for those of you who are somewhat familiar with closings and the procedures involved with such a transaction, you should recognize the document that's usually at the end of every closing package, it's called the "acknowledgment of closing instructions by the closing agent".  Essentially when the closing agent signs this document they attest that the closing has been done the way the lender outlined in their instructions.  Detective Baluja and Prosecutor Kostrzewski, it would only make sense that since you arrested the attorney for "not following closing instructions" that her signature would have been on this acknowledgment right?  Here's the document...

I've redacted the name of the person who actually signed the acknowledgment, but rest assured the person who signed wasn't arrested.  In fact months after the arrests were made Prosecutor Kostrzewski denied that such a document actually existed, even worse, the person who executed this critical document wasn't even questioned before the arrests were made.  Does that make any sense to anyone?  I'd be willing to bet that neither Detective Baluja or prosecutor Kostrzewski had ever seen this document before even though it's in their own case file... 


  1. Have you contacted that person for a statement on the affair? Pretty amazing.

  2. John,

    I haven't contacted anyone. I'm sure there's people reading the blog that will figure it out.