Monday, August 30, 2010

So you've been charged with a crime and you want to defend yourself...

Why wouldn't you?  The state says you've committed a crime and you want to defend yourself, it's your right, isn't it?  In order to defend yourself, you and your attorneys need tools with which to do so, whether it's evidence that the state has against you or information you can gather by subpoena and information you may be able to glean from deposing witnesses.  From what little I know about the criminal justice system, the state is obligated to turn over what they have against you in order for you to be able to prepare your defense, problem is that if they hand over everything they may undermine their own case against you.  From what little I've learned over the past year or so, one of the things that the state is obligated to turn over to the defense is the detectives narratives aka the detectives reports, in fact, the judge presiding over the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case ordered the state early on to preserve all the detectives reports and notes.  From one of the motions filed by one of the defendants we find this...
"It is an axiomatic principle that in order to conduct proper and effective criminal depositions of a police detective, the Defense needs a copy of the Detective's report so that the proper deposition questions can be formulated and all areas of the detective's investigation can be covered."
Common sense right?  In fact, doesn't it seem odd that something so basic even needs to be mentioned let alone put into a motion before the court?  Remember, the Barrera mortgage fraud arrests were made on October 3, 2008, again from the same motion...
"On November 13, 2008, Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski advised that the detective reports were not available.  Furthermore, he could not estimate when the detective reports would be provided as it depended on when the Detectives could find time to complete the reports."
Super, the cops can certainly find the time to put together the arrest affidavits and a criminal case against you but once you're in the system and need to prepare a defense suddenly they need to "find time to complete the reports."  Now here you are with criminal charges pending against you and you're stuck at their mercy waiting to defend yourself.

So just how long does it take to get those detectives reports you ask?  The arrests were made on October 3, 2008 and this motion was filed a little over a month later, how long afterwords did the state turn over the Detectives reports you ask?  Good question.  Here we are some 22 months later and guess what?  Still no Detectives reports.  How much longer is it gonna take Mr. Kostrzewski?  I'm getting a little tired of waiting...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Condo conversions, straw buyers and mortgage fraud!

What a great mix!  During the peak of the real estate bubble we experienced a trend where real estate investors would buy up multi unit rental buildings or townhouses and then convert them to condominiums which they then resold at huge profits.  Nothing wrong with that.  I personally watched a few friends make hundreds of millions of dollars doing these condo conversions, things were going along swimmingly until the real estate bubble started to deflate, that's when things started to get really interesting.  Investors that purchased these types of properties after the market peaked found themselves with units that they paid way too much for and quickly found that there was no legitimate buyers for their grossly overpriced units.  The saving grace for these property owners?  FRAUD!  

Here's a story from California that sums up one such situation to a t.

There were tons of these rental communities that were converted into "condos" all over Florida netting the converters hundreds if not billions of dollars and now most of these projects are busted out and in ruins with the lenders left holding the bag for properties that are worth a fraction of what's owed on them.  So here's the question that begs to be asked, considering the massive amounts of fraud that went on and the dollar amounts involved with these condo conversions, why are the people in law enforcement playing around with bullshit nickle and dime cases like the Barrera mortgage fraud case?  Are the mortgage fraud cases that are touted in the local media just window dressing for the masses while the guys who made off with the big money go unnoticed or are these cases too tough for law enforcement to tackle? 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

So that mortgage fraud gig didn't pan out for you, huh counselor?

So what happens if you're a real estate attorney who couldn't make a go of that whole mortgage fraud thing?  Say you just happen to be lucky enough to be the attorney who was arrested in the Miami Dade County Mortgage Fraud Task Force's inaugural case back in 2007,  whatcha up to 3 years later?  You all remember attorney David Rodriguez from the Mortgage Fraud task forces first case that we discussed several months ago, ever wonder what he's been doing since his arrest?  As luck would have it, we were cruising down the street the other day and we stumble upon this sign...

Just for the hell of it I decided to call and see who the attorney responsible for this sign was and lo an behold it's David Rodriguez!  From mortgage fraud to ambulance chaser!  NICE! 

Strange thing though is that there's no record of Mr. Rodriguez's arrest, we were only able to find out about the case because of his poorly redacted name that was all over the criminal case file for the co defendants on the same case, obviously Mr. Rodriguez cut a deal early on and had his criminal record sealed so that his foray into the world of mortgage fraud would remain a secret.  Unfortunately for Mr. Rodriguez, whoever did the redacting from the state attorneys office did a piss poor job, all they did was simply go over his name with a black magic marker wherever it appeared in the file, in many instances his name was clearly visible underneath the marker making the whole redaction pointless...

I was so shocked at what a poor job the state attorneys office had done at redacting his name, that I completely missed what was at the bottom of the page...

There you have it, we no longer have to speculate whether or not Mr. Rodriguez was involved in that first mortgage fraud task force case, his name is clearly printed on the bottom of a few of the pages in the criminal case file along with his co defendants and the case number.  So much for "redaction"!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
                                                 -Abraham Lincoln 

I was left dumbfounded the other day when I stumbled up on that nearly 150 year old quote, so simple yet so true.  Hard times?  You'll more than likely get through it.  Broken heart?  You'll get over it.  But give a man a little power and see how he handles himself, that's the true test of a man's character.  Honest Abe was right on the money.  Throughout the last year or so we've seen several instances where people with some degree of "power" have behaved in a less than honorable fashion, from a dishonest cop to a morally and ethically bankrupt prosecutor.

I don't think we need to rehash all of Detective Baluja's misdeeds, but I do think that it's worth noting some of Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski's.  From abusing his charging powers as a prosecutor by bringing charges against defendants he knew were innocent to threatening innocent family members of people he charged in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case with new criminal charges in order to get them to turn against each other.  How perverse is that?  For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, I'll give you a hint.  How about something as simple as lying about his health to get out of a deposition?  Or worse, what about the highly unethical things that Mr. Kostrzewski has done behind the scenes that we weren't supposed to find out about?  Thanks to some of our readers we know quite a bit about things that Mr. Kostrzewski never dreamed of us learning about.  I have to wonder if Mr. Kostrzewski's superiors at the state attorneys office are aware of his indiscretions?  More importantly though, what have Mr. Kostrzewski's actions throughout the Barrera mortgage fraud case told us about his character?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lies, lies, lies. What are the consequences of lying under oath?

I've been asking myself that question for the last couple of years while going to court and watching lawyers ramble in front of judges and juries.  Watching self righteous prosecutors huff and puff and pound their chests in front of the people they've charged and their defense attorneys, trying to intimidate the poor guy who's at their mercy.  If nothing else, it's great theater.  But what happens if the officer of the court, or the state's witness is there before the judge or jury giving false testimony?  Or even worse, what if a prosecutor is standing there intentionally misleading the court regarding the facts of a major case?  What if the judge presiding over the case finds out?  The outcome can't be good!

Most recently we've seen two examples of people getting busted lying in the media, first that nutcase ex governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted earlier this week in his corruption trial on one count of lying to the FBI.  While this may seem like a trivial crime, it caries up to possible 5 year sentence.  That's some serious time for lying to the FBI isn't it?

How about the other guy caught lying under oath, baseball great Roger Clemens indicted for lying to congress, from ESPN...
The six-count indictment alleges that Clemens obstructed a congressional inquiry with 15 different statements made under oath, including denials that he had ever used steroids or human growth hormone. The New York Times first reported the indictment.
They say that Clemens could face up to 30 years in prison, that ain't no good now is it?  Why all the fuss about people lying under oath?  What's the big deal right?  What would happen though if the person lying under oath was a cop or even worse, a prosecutor?  

Let's imagine one of those infamous "Straw Buyer" hypothetical situations, what would happen if a prosecutor is asked by a judge presiding over a high profile case to explain the facts of his case so the judge could understand what the case was about?  What if the prosecutor then proceeded to lie about the facts of the case, intentionally misrepresenting the facts and lying about the way the crime occurred, even going so far as negating the facts and time line in the arrest affidavit?  What would happen to said prosecutor if his bullshit was uncovered and brought to the courts attention?  One could only imagine!  If Blago is facing up to 5 years behind bars and Clemens is looking at up to 30 years, I would hate to think what could happen to a dishonest prosecutor with a history of lying to the court...

I promise, Monday we'll let you all know what the 15 cases of over $4.5 million in fraud that we discussed yesterday have in common.  Till then, have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Does the punishment fit the crime?

Good question, right?  We've discussed several different types of fraud and the subsequent punishments the fraudsters received over the course of the last year or so, you're left to wonder though, does the punishment the criminals got fit the crime?  Let's look at the punishment that a bank teller named Haley Petterson received for ripping off elderly bank clients...
"Haley Petterson, 21, was a bank teller. She, (and two others), pleaded guilty for her role in cashing checks and withdrawing the money from dormant accounts of older people.

On Monday, Judge Kallon sentenced Ms. Patterson to one hour in prison. She also received eight months home detention and was ordered to pay $41,800 in restitution."
Oh boy!  So she ripped off poor unsuspecting retirees to the tune of $41,800 and all she got was one hour in prison and 8 months home detention?!

Why would anyone think that's harsh?  Let's go back a few months to where we uncovered $4.5 million dollars of mortgage fraud cases that were prosecuted by the State Attorneys Office, where none of the 15 people charged received anything more than just simple probation.  With that in mind, one hour in prison certainly does sound harsh now doesn't it?!

Tomorrow we're gonna revisit those 15 cases of mortgage fraud and see what they all have in common.  Has anyone figured it out yet?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prosecutorial misconduct? CHECK! Fake victim of mortgage fraud? CHECK! Witness can't identify suspect? CHECK! Glad to see we're not the only ones!

So here we were thinking we were the only ones that have suffered through the abuses of a bumbling fool of a prosecutor and dealing with a "Victim" of fraud that whose claims were somewhat suspect.  Little did we know there was another case in New York with some remarkable similarities to the ones that we've been writing about, there's an anonymous blogger whose been writing about it on his blog.  

You all remember when we wrote about how defendant Michael Martinez couldn't describe one of his alleged co-conspirators a few weeks back, take a look at how the "victim" in the NY mortgage fraud case describes the man who defrauded her...
The DA put up a seller "victim", Donna Campbell, on the stand recently during the prosecution's case.  Campbell apparently sold her home and she testified she did not receive the correct amount of proceeds from the sale, etc. On cross-examination, Richard Wool, Aaron Hand's attorney, proceeded to ask Ms. Campbell if she had ever met Aaron Hand to which she replied of course.  Wool then asked her to describe Hand.  Campbell answered by describing Hand as a "5'10" African-American male".
Ok, so what's the big deal?  Ms. Campbell got screwed out of some money by a "5'10" African-American male", so what?  Our fellow blogger at Criminal Enterprise illustrates the fatal flaw in Ms. Cambell's testimony with a simple photo of the "5'10" African-American male"...

WHOOPS!  This "African American" looks a bit caucasian doesn't he?   Nice work there Mr. Prosecutor!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just how much shit can you feed a cop before he figures out you're lying to him? Revisiting Bernardo Barrera's first identity theft, the case of Ocean Waves Powerboats and Alex Orriols.

Honestly, just how much bullshit can you feed a detective before the detective figures out that somethings haywire?  The man at the center of one of the mortgage fraud stories that we've discussed during the course of our blog, Bernardo Barrera, was involved in another identity theft case four months before the Oak Avenue mortgage fraud.  Strange how Mr. Barrera had the misfortune to fall prey to not just one but two identity theft schemes in such a short period of time.  I'm going to propose that the two identity thefts were somehow related, regardless of whether or not Mr. Barrera was involved in the crimes, somehow I get the feeling that there's more to these two cases that meets the eye and that if you look at the two cases together you'll get a strong sense that somethings awry.

Let's start by taking a good look at the police report Mr. Barrera filed for the identity theft case involving the purchase of a boat from Ocean Waves Powerboats that was financed through GE Money Bank...

Bernardo Barrera Police Report for Identity Theft Involving Ocean Waves Powerboats

OK, simple enough, for the purposes of today's discussion, let's pay particular attention to this excerpt, I've underlined the pertinent facts in red and as always, click on the document to enlarge it to full size...

In this excerpt Mr. Alex Orriols, the principal of Ocean Waves Powerboats, tells the detective investigating the case that:
"On November 1, 2007, an unknown male walked into the boat show located in the Miami Beach Convention Center to purchase a boat. After looking around at all the boats on display, the unknown subject walked up to the Ocean Waves Powerboats display and spoke with the manager Alex Orioles about purchasing a boat and filled out all the necessary paperwork for the boat."
We already talked about the first major flaw with this statement several months ago,  THERE IS NO BOAT SHOW LOCATED IN THE MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION CENTER IN NOVEMBER!  Let's not split hairs now, that's a minor detail.  Moving on, according to the statement, Mr. Orriols and Mr. Barrera (or impostor) filled out all the necessary paperwork for the boat.  Fair enough, guy finds a boat at an imaginary boat show and he fills out the necessary paperwork to purchase the boat.  Next we're told that Mr. Orriols...
"...sent the paperwork to GE Money Bank for their review. In about a week GE Money Bank had approved the deal and sent the paperwork back to Mr. Orriols. On November 10, 2008, the unknown subject came to the office at Ocean Waves Power Boats LLC to sign the final papers and pick up the boat."
Ok, got it?  Mr. Orriols met with Mr. Barrera (or impostor) at the imaginary boat show on November 1, 2007 then filled out the necessary paperwork for the purchase of the boat, he then sent the paperwork to GE Money Bank who returned it a week later (November 8, I presume) and on November 10, 2007 Mr. Barrera (or impostor) picked up the boat from Ocean Waves Powerboats place of business.  Fair enough.

Bare with me now, I've come across some paperwork from this transaction that creates some serious issues with Mr. Orriols statement, pay particular attention to the parts outlined in red.  Let's start with the manufacturers statement of origin for the boat in question. 

Notice the date outlined in red?  An MSO is the document that's used to transfer ownership for a new vehicle from the manufacturer to it's first owner, so why is the MSO for this boat dated November 1, 2007, the date Mr. Barrera (or impostor) first filled out the paperwork and loan application for the purchase of said vessel?  Perhaps a mistake on the part of the boat manufacturer?  

Now, let's take a gander at the MSO for the boats engines, again this document is transferring ownership of the boats engines from the manufacturer to the boats first owner...

Oh Crap, there's that date again, November 1, 2007.  Why is the ownership of the vessels engines being transferred before the bank approved the loan for the acquisition of the boat?  Somethings not adding up here, it gets worse though.  Take a look at this application for title for the vessel in question...

Why is it dated November 1, 2007 as well?  If the bank didn't approve the loan for the boat until November 8, 2007 and the boat wasn't picked up till November 10, 2007, wouldn't logic dictate that all these documents should be dated some time between the 8th and 10th of November?  Also take note that on this application for "Certificate of Title" Ocean Waves Powerboats is recording a lien in favor of GE Money Bank, isn't that bizarre since the bank hadn't even approved the loan yet and more than likely wasn't even aware of the loan application on November 1, 2007?  According to the police report the loan that was funding the purchase of this boat wasn't even approved until at least November 8, 2007, so why are these guys recording a lien with the state of Florida on November 1st?

Even more disturbing is "Dealers tax statement" that was filed for this boat...
If I'm reading this document correctly it suggests that the company that sold the boat to Mr. Barrera (or impostor) collected $5,964.61 in sales tax on November 1, 2007.  Am I the only one that finds collecting sales tax on a sale that has not occurred yet a little strange?

Oh, what the hell.  Maybe this transaction really happened at the imaginary boat show on November 1, 2007 and just for shits and grins, the principal of Ocean Waves Powerboats decided to transfer ownership of the boat to the buyer, record a lien in favor of the bank and collect the sales tax for the transaction before the loan to purchase the boat was even approved let alone funded.  Anything is possible I guess, but then how do you explain the purchase order for the boat that would have been signed that day at the imaginary boat show?  Pay attention to the dates outlined in red...

WHOOPSIE!  Did you all catch that?  The date on the purchase contract for the boat in question is October 19, 2007.  HUH?!  According to the police report and Mr. Orriols testimony, his first contact with Mr. Barrera (or impostor) was on November 1, 2007 so how the hell do you explain this purchase contract dated several weeks before they ever met?

Can it get worse?  Of course it can!  Let's take a look at this excerpt from Mr. Barrera's credit report that shows all the inquiries that were made by the different lending institutions at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008...

Notice that inquiry outlined in red?  That inquiry was made by "GEMB" aka "GE Money Bank" on October 26, 2007 which means Mr. Orriols not only had all of Mr. Barrera's information and applied for financing for the boat well before November 1, 2007 when he allegedly met Mr. Barrera (or impostor) at the imaginary boat show, it also proves that he was somewhat less than truthful in his statement to the detective investigating this case of identity theft.  Let's not forget Mr. Orriol's rap sheet which the Detective would have pulled before interviewing him, look at the charges the state pressed against him on one case alone...

For fcuks sake, how the hell did this detective go and question this guy regarding a crime involving bank fraud and identity theft without arresting him on the spot?!  WTF?!  What about all the conflicting dates he gave in his statement?!  For christ's sakes, what the hell is wrong here?  Can cops be this stupid?  Whether or not Bernardo Barrera's identity was stolen or not for the commission of this crime, the guy the detective is interviewing who's at the center of this crime is not only lying through his teeth but has a history of bank fraud and identity theft.  What exactly does it take to make this detective suspicious of this Orriols character?!  What's worse, is here we are 3 years later, what do you think the status of this case according to the Miami Dade Police Department?

Did you really expect any different?  Am I the only one that thinks the identity theft case involving the boat and the identity theft case involving the Oak Avenue home have anything to do with each other?  At the very least, if I was investigating the Barrera mortgage fraud case, wouldn't this previous instance of Mr. Barrera getting his identity stolen be of importance to me?  What if there was the slightest chance that the two cases were related?  Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense investigating the mortgage fraud case would want to comb over the first identity theft case with a fine tooth comb in search of leads right?  Let's see what Detective Jorge Baluja, the lead detective in the Barrera mortgage fraud case tells us during his deposition regarding the first case where Mr. Barrera got his identity stolen...

That's it huh?  He didn't "get into specifics about it."  So this previous case of your victim getting his identity stolen wasn't important to the case that you were currently investigating where your victim also gets his identity stolen?

No $hit?  Ok, at the very least, you noted this identity theft case that occurred just four months prior to the case you were investigating in your report Detective Baluja, correct?

Oh, crap.  So the previous identity theft case wasn't even mentioned in the report that Detective Baluja wrote regarding the mortgage fraud case?  Surely the Detective must have thought it a little strange that Mr. Barrera's identity was stolen twice within four months, couldn't the two cases have been related Detective Baluja?  Wouldn't you want to know details about the first case, who knows the two cases may have something in common? 

Two instances where the same "victim" gets his identity stolen for the commission of six figure frauds and this idiot didn't think he needed to look into both cases?  Can anyone figure out how this guy became a detective?

Don't fret folks, we're working on another angle, there may be justice after all...

Friday, August 13, 2010

We're off to PANAMA!

It's finally Friday and we're off to PANAMA!  Today we're going to visit a city in Panama named La Chorrera which is located about 18 miles south west of Panama City.  According to the city's wiki page, the city is known for "its beautiful women, kind people, and happy night life", sounds delightful doesn't it?

The climate is warm and tropical with heavy rains from May through November and apparently the city gets it's name from the many waterfalls that are located in the immediate area surrounding the city.  Let's take a quick bus ride through La Chorrera...

Very nice.  Now what the hell does this backwards ass town in some corruption ridden third world country have to do with our blog?  Guess who we found hiding in La Diarrhea, Panama?  We'll discuss on Monday.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A purely hypothetical situation, the YO DAWG guy, the Straw Buyer and attorney client privilege.

YES, I AM OFF MY MEDS!  You all remember the YO DAWG! guy right?

Let's look at a purely hypothetical situation, let's say that me and the YO DAWG! guy committed some sort of crime together, for the sake of argument let's say the crime we committed involved some sort of real estate transaction, nothing as egregious as the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud, perhaps something along the lines of what the Plantation cops are being accused of, say we lied about our income and misstated some facts on a mortgage application for an investment property that we were going to flip for a profit.  As the real estate market soured, our investment went south, we find ourselves unable to continue making the mortgage payments on our "investment" and the property falls into foreclosure.

At this point, the YO DAWG! guy is freaking out and suggests we go see an attorney to discuss the implications of the home going into foreclosure, so off we go to our attorneys office!  While meeting with our attorney we discuss how the deal went down, we tell the attorney everything, where we got the down payment from, how we submitted fake employment information, inflated our salaries, etc...  The attorney gives us advice and we move on, no biggie, just another foreclosure in a nation already drowning in foreclosures.  A terrible situation especially since the YO DAWG! guy was the target of another criminal investigation.  Little does the attorney or the YO DAWG! guy know that I was already involved in another mess as well and had criminal charges looming over me that I had gotten out from under by wearing a wire to the meeting in order to set up the YO DAWG! guy!

Even worse, since the prosecutor and cops listened in on the entire meeting with our attorney where we laid out every single detail of our nefarious scheme, they now have the YO DAWG! guy by the balls admitting to committing a crime!

That's fcuked ain't it?  Wouldn't the entire conversation that took place between me, the YO DAWG! guy and our attorney be protected under Attorney Client Privilege as we discussed the other day?  In fact, wouldn't me being coerced into wearing a wire so that the police and prosecutor could listen in on my conversation between me, my co-conspirator and our attorney be HIGHLY FCKUING ILLEGAL?!

Let's not get worked up folks, remember this is purely hypothetical situation!  God forbid something like this actually happened, I can't even begin to imagine the repercussions of such behavior.  I can tell you this much though, there's at least one of our blog readers whose sphincter tightened up so hard after reading this post that they probably passed out...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Privileged conversations?

Now what?  What does privileged conversations have to do with our tales of mortgage fraud?  For those of you here to find dirt on your friends or former colleagues that were charged in one of the cases we've talked about or those of you who think your about to get charged for something we've written about, hold your horses, the subject of today's post is far more important.

So what types of communications are privileged?  We've all heard about Clergy Privilege, which according to Wikipedia is...
" an application of the principle of privileged communication that protects the contents of communications between a member of the clergy and a penitent, who shares information in confidence."
You know how that goes, say you go over to your priest, mullah, rabbi or whatever and you confess that you like to stick foreign objects up your keister while cross dressing.   Now, that's not exactly illegal behavior, but wouldn't you hate if the priest you confessed that behavior to told everyone about your fetish?  Even worse, what would you think if someone had the confessional bugged and was recording your confession in order to use it against you later?  Scary thought isn't it?

What about other types of privileged communications?  We've all watched enough TV lawyer shows to have heard about Attorney Client Privilege right?  Once again from Wiki...
...a legal concept that protects certain communications between a client and his or her attorney and keeps those communications confidential. The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications.[1] The United States Supreme Court has stated that by assuring confidentiality the privilege encourages clients to make “full and frank” disclosures to their attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation.
Now, can you imagine the kinds of things someone who's charged with a crime must tell their attorney?  God forbid someone was listening in on those conversations!  Can you imagine if say the police or a prosecutor was listening in on conversations between an attorney and their client especially if the attorney was in no way shape or form involved in the crime that their client was charged with?  The very thought of such a situation should send chills down your spine.  That could never happen though right?  NAH! 

But what if it did happen?  Let's see if one of the attorneys that read our blog would care to comment about just such a hypothetical situation.

Friday, August 6, 2010

So why is the lead detective in a headine mortgage fraud case helping someone identify a suspect?

Good question huh?  Why is Detective Jorge Baluja helping defendant Michael Martinez identify one of the suspects in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case?  In our last post we described the highly unusually technique that Detective Baluja used to have Mr. Martinez identify attorney Delaila Estefano, the attorney whose office conducted the closing for the Oak Avenue home that's at the center of the Barrera mortgage fraud case, the detective showed a single photo of Ms. Estefano to Mr. Martinez and asked him to identify her, what we called the "single photo lineup."

Now, let's look at why Mr. Martinez needed so much help in identifying Ms. Estefano for the police, from his deposition transcript...

So Mr. Martinez can't describe the suspect that Detective Baluja want's him to identify, sounds like a bit of a problem.  Not good but it gets worse...

If not physically, then how?  How about something simple like hair color Mr. Martinez?

Uh oh.  That's when the Detective busts out with his single photo line up...

Pretty pathetic, but as usual it gets worse.  Some of you may remember that in exchange for his testimony against his fellow codefendants in the Barrera fraud case, Mr. Martinez was given a sweetheart plea deal and sent on his way.  That should lead you to wonder, what kind of plea deal could the state give a defendant who couldn't even identify the target of the states case?  Wouldn't a "reasonably prudent" prosecutor (Judge Barzee's words, not mine) have taken a step back when this guy couldn't get his facts straight?  You would think so, but no.  Instead assistant state attorney Bill Kostrzewski decided to build his case on statements from Mr. Martinez, statements from a codefendant that couldn't even identify the target of his prosecution, statements from a man willing to say anything to keep himself from going to jail.  Once again, nice going Bill!  Trust me folks, it gets much worse.

With that said, stay tuned and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You ever wan't something so bad...

...that you'd do nearly anything to get it?  We all know the feeling, whether as child or an adult, you want something so bad that you'd do anything and overcome any obstacle in order to get it. 

So what does a defendant who's offered a deal to get out from under some serious felony charges do?  Would he lie and tell the prosecutor and the cops what they want to hear to get himself out of trouble?  What lengths would a law enforcement officer go to in order to ensure a witness gives him favorable testimony against his target?  Last but not least, the prosecutor, what lengths would he go to in order to secure a conviction against the people he's after?

Let's take up the defendants angle, the guy who got charged and is offered a plea by the state in exchange for testimony against one of his codefendants, how far would he go to save his own ass?  We learned several months ago that Michael Martinez (the man who lent the straw buyer in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case the down payment) was the first of the three original defendants charged in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case to plead out, a plea that included testifying against the others that were charged.  Standard operating procedure right?  But what if Mr. Martinez couldn't even identify the person that he committed the crime with?  The other vital member of the "organized scheme to defraud" Citi mortgage?  How far would the Detective leading the investigation go in order to help Mr. Martinez identify his co conspirator?  Take a look at this excerpt of Mr. Martinez's deposition where he's discussing how he's asked to identify the attorney whose office conducted the closing...

Very nice.  The detective shows Mr. Martinez a single photo and then asks him if that's the person he's trying to identify, so what's this now, the "one person" photo line up?  Am I missing something?  Does that sound Kosher to you all?  

I for one find this photo line up that's comprised of a single photo very problematic.  Tomorrow we'll see why the police and prosecutor were so desperate to get Mr. Martinez to identify the attorney that was the target of their investigation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Some reader comments regarding the attorneys that were indicted in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case.

Looks like we have quiet a few blog followers that are interested in the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud case.  We've recently received some interesting comments regarding the two attorneys, Steven Stoll and Stephan Orchard, who were indicted as part of the mortgage fraud ring.  Take a look...
Anonymous said...
They guy was making millions on legit closing. Huge company. Ask yourself why he would risk it all on these 13 loans for minimal gain. The truth is he had no idea who these guys were and had dirt bags working for him. The dirt bags should go to jail and his company should pay back all loans plus penalties. 
Fair enough.  I believe the commenter must be referring to attorney Steven Stoll in this instance.  The reader brings up a good point, if indeed the attorneys firm was HUGE, why did he knowingly participate in these 13 or so allegedly fraudulent transactions and risk his entire career and practice?  Is it entirely possible that the attorney really had no idea what was going on?  Anything is possible, we'll have to sift through the paperwork as it becomes available and make a determination.

Here's another comment regarding the attorneys involved in the Plantation cops indictiment...
Anonymous said...
You should keep your eye on the Plantation Cops case. I heard that one of the attorneys who "enriched" himself had to have the court appoint an attorney for him. The taxpayers will pay for the defense of a person who should never have been there in the first place. 
Oh well.  So much for the "making millions" part.  You have to hope that the prosecutors that filed the charges against the cops and attorneys did so after diligently researching all the evidence that was before them considering the effect their indictment has had on the people they charged and their families.  Serious business folks, not to be taken lightly, federal indictments are no laughing matter.

One more reader comment for today regarding the Plantation cops fraud...
Anonymous said... 
Very simple case. The cops and others bought homes fixed them up and sold them. The cops submitted real info, the brokers forged documents on these loans and hundreds of others. The Governent was made aware of the fraud commited against the cops and many others they ignored the eviedence and targeted the cops. End of story, look at the other loans you will find the same thing.
People who commit mortgage fraud don't fix up the homes and make mortgage payments for several years, and then sell the homes at losses. They run away with money! Someone please do a real investigation, maybe a reporter, as the FDLE has clearly not.
Makes sense and seems entirely plausible but as we discussed the other day, the Feds seem to be going after these guys in part for submitting "false documentation in order to make them able to qualify for the mortgage loans", like we've said before, if you're going to nail everyone that's lied on the 1003 mortgage application then most everyone is in trouble.  Since the feds are now going after people who lied on their mortgage applications, here's a clear cut example of Bernardo Barrera committing mortgage fraud back in 2005 on a silver platter with all the supporting documents.  We know that Assistant state attorney Bill Kostrzewski knew about this instance of mortgage fraud and actually questioned Mr. Barrera during his deposition regarding this mortgage but chose not to file charges against him perhaps for fear of destroying his headline mortgage fraud case.  Surprisingly enough, it seems that if Mr. Kostzrewski would have investigated this transaction a little further, he would have found his "victim" involved in even MORE FRAUD!  But why complicate matters, right Bill?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Submitting fake documents and lying on your mortgage application...

I keep going through the Plantation Cop mortgage fraud case over and over again, this bit from the federal indictment keeps bothering me...

Fair enough, right?  Part of the governments case against the cops is that they allege that they lied about their jobs and falsified their incomes.  That may seem like nothing, but at the end of the day lying on a 1003 mortgage application is against the law, splitting hairs perhaps, but still against the law.  With that in mind, let's revisit the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case for a moment.  Let's assume that Mr. Barrera did get his identity stolen during the commission of this fraud, how did the fraudsters verify his employment and income?  From what we've been able to glean from the files, the real Mr. Barrera hasn't been gainfully employed since late 2005, so how was he or the people who stole his identity able to get him qualified for a $600,000 home purchase?  This document that was sent to CitiMortgage may answer that question...

Bernardo Barrera Verification of Employment

Interesting isn't it?  After reading that document, isn't it safe to say that a reasonably prudent detective or prosecutor would investigate this verification of employment letter before moving forward with their case?  At the very minimum we have two new people added into the mix, a mortgage broker who claims to have spoken to someone that verified Mr. Barrera's employment as well as the business owner who claimed that Mr. Barrera was not only gainfully employed but also that "the likelihood of his continued employment was excellent".  Considering how important that verification of employment letter was to obtaining the fraudulent mortgage, why is there no evidence anywhere in the states file that the two people mentioned in that letter were ever interviewed regarding the Oak Avenue home purchase?  If submitting false proof of employment and income was enough to federally indict the cops in the Plantation case, why wasn't it enough to get these guys arrested on the Barrera fraud case?  Something doesn't add up here.