Friday, April 29, 2011

Trying to understand the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trial verdict.

 I was dumbfounded with the jury's verdict yesterday in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial.  John Burstein from the Sun Sentinel covers the verdict here.   I can't seem to understand how some of the defendants were found not guilty while others were found guilty since they all allegedly did the same thing.  I was of the belief that they were all going to be found not guilty or all guilty, I never imagined two of the six were going to be found guilty while the others walked.  Once again though, we find the government successfully prosecuting people that simply lied on their mortgage applications, as we've mentioned before, if that's the new standard for mortgage fraud prosecutions then the overwhelming majority of the people who purchased homes over the last decade could possibly run the risk of being convicted of mortgage fraud!

I'm still having trouble reconciling yesterdays verdict.  Could it have been simply a case of four of the six defense attorneys doing a better job then the other two?  Was the evidence against the two convicted officers that much worse than the rest?  Perhaps after nearly two months of sitting in jury box and going over thousands of pages of evidence, hundreds of hours of testimony and endless scores of expert witnesses, maybe the jury was lost?  Take a look at this question the jury sent to the judge just before they came back with the verdict and draw your own conclusions...

Question From the Plantation Cops Mortgage Fraud Trial Jury

The jury asks:
Can a defendant be not guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and/or wire fraud and yet be guilty of mail fraud & wire fraud?
Does that make any sense to any of you?  Considering the nature of the crimes in question, the question makes no sense, yet it's a perfect example of the jury's state of mind, at least in my opinion.

Regardless, moving on to a comment left by one of our esteemed readers this morning...
Anonymous said...
what fine words of wisdom do you have now jerky
Thanks for that.  I'll leave off with congratulating the fine defense attorneys who did an excellent job exonerating their clients, Deric Zacca, Roger Cabrera, Steven Potolsky, Michael Dutko, Marc Fagelson, Jayne Weintraub and Anthony Livoti.  Well done, brilliant work.  Best of luck to officers Joseph Lagrasta, Casey Mittauer, Daryl Radziwon and FBI agent Robert Depriest and their families.  I hope they're able to get their lives and careers back together and put this whole ugly ordeal behind them.  

As far as the other two defendants that were found guilty, John Velez and Joseph Derosa, in light of the crimes they were convicted of, we can only hope the court is lenient with their sentences.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jury in the Plantation cops federal mortgage fraud trial still out. UPDATED! VERDICT IN.

As the title states, they're still out. We'll update as soon as there's news. In the mean time, what do you guys think the verdict will be?


We're being told that the jury just came back (unconfirmed). Stay tuned.

Jury Has Reached a Verdict in the Plantation Cops Mortgage Fraud Trial

VERDICT IN. Take a look for yourselves...

Plantation Cops Mortgage Fraud Trial Verdict

Velez and Derosa found guilty while Radziwon, Depriest, Mittauer and Lagrasta acquitted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The jury in the Plantation Cops federal mortgage fraud trial has begun deliberating...

Our sources tell us that the case was handed over to the jury yesterday at 1:40 PM, so much for our theory that the jury was going to come back with a verdict in under an hour!  We were also told that the prosecution accidentally handed over documents to the jury with post it notes with information that the jury wasn't supposed to see all over them.  

While we wait for the jury to come back, I have to wonder, what impact will this verdict have on the next trial?  For those of you who don't remember, the case was split into two trials, one for the cops and another for the lawyers, Steven Stoll, Stephan Orchard and the Guaracino brothers, Joeseph and Dennis.  If the first case comes back with an acquittal, what's going to happen with the second case?  Remember, the cops defense in the first case is that they had no idea what they were doing was wrong and had relied on the attorneys and brokers who told them everything was on the up and up.  

I know our readers are on the edge of their seats waiting for the verdict, check back often today (assuming the jury comes back today), I'll have an update as soon as there's a verdict.  In the mean time, it's gonna be a nail biter!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Defense rests in the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trail.


From what we’re told the defense rested yesterday in the Plantation Cops federal mortgage fraud trial, closing arguments are expected this morning and the case is expected to get to the jury this afternoon.  It’s been nearly two months since the start of this trial, I have to wonder how much information the jury has been able to retain?  Our courtroom observers have told us that most of the jury had a hard time keeping awake during the six weeks of the prosecution’s case and that across the board they looked bored off their asses.  On the other hand, it looks like the defense took only two weeks to present their case, I’m not exactly sure why it took six weeks for the prosecution.

So what do you guys think?  At least one of the jurors has said that there’s nothing that’s going to change her mind about the defendants innocence, isn’t that one juror enough to screw up the case for the prosecution?  In my opinion there’s no way the jury is going to find any of these guys guilty.  Why?  It’s simple, these guys aren’t accused of stealing millions or defrauding the banks and leaving them with a laundry list of busted out houses that are in foreclosure.  The crux of the government’s case against these guys is that they lied on mortgage applications in order to obtain the loans that are at the center of the indictment.  The reason that they will not be found guilty is because there isn’t a single member of that jury or one of their family members that hasn’t done the same.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that some of the very jury members that now sit in judgment of these cops has been involved with some sort of real estate investment/flip scheme over the last ten years therefore making a guilty verdict the ultimate expression of hypocrisy.  We’ll know the outcome soon enough, I’ll update as soon as there’s anything new.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Plantation attorney Eve Rosen found not guilty of federal mortgage fraud charges.


From yesterdays Miami Herald article...

Plantation attorney acquitted in federal mortgage fraud case

A Plantation attorney was acquitted of 13 counts of bank fraud Thursday, after a federal jury found that she did not knowingly participate in a mortgage loan scam that cost three banks $7.9 million.Eve Rosen, 55, was implicated in a scheme in which Broward County developer Jeffrey Phillips recruited South Florida straw buyers to create fraudulent loan applications in order to buy vacant lots in North Florida. Between 2006 and 2008, Rosen was the closing agent on all of the transactions, which featured artificially inflated prices, fake income statements and falsified down payment information. In addition to the 13 counts of bank fraud, Rosen was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
The case was part of Operation Stolen Dreams, the federal government’s largest-ever mortgage fraud takedown effort. Others involved in the case, including Phillips, the straw buyers and those who recruited them to falsify their information, have pleaded guilty in the scheme.
Rosen’s lawyers said their client did not know about the scam that Phillips was perpetrating and was duped just like the banks were.
“She’s been a practicing attorney for 25 years, with no [problems] in the past,” said Russell Koonin, of the Ferraro Law Firm. “There was not one witness on the stand who could point to say that she knew” about the scheme.
In a federal courtroom in Miami, prosecutors argued that Rosen was “deliberately ignorant,” and that she played a part in preparing falsified closing documents.
A jury returned a not guilty verdict Thursday, ending the 10-month long case.
I guess congratulations are in order for Ms. Rosen and her defense team.  I have to admit, this case flew under my radar as I had no knowledge of it or the fed's "Operation Stolen Dreams".  Regardless, let's take a look at the federal indictment...

Eve Rosen Mortgage Fraud Indictment

The charges seem to be in line with all the other federal mortgage fraud indictments, wire fraud, bank fraud etc, the only major difference between this case and the others is that this one appears to have involved unimproved vacant lots rather than homes.  I really don't know enough about this case to comment at this point, you have to wonder though, how strong could the governments case been against Ms. Rosen if her codefendants all plead guilty and they still couldn't get a conviction against her?

On another note, I'm told that the defense is about to rest in the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud case.  According to several of our sources, earlier this week one of the jurors told the judge that she was convinced that the cops charged were innocent and nothing that she was going to hear going forward was going to convince her otherwise!  Assuming the government didn't get this juror thrown out, isn't a not guilty verdict a foregone conclusion at this point?  

Considering the expected outcome of the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trail, I'm left to wonder, who's going to put the defendants lives back together?  Who's going to erase the last years worth of economic hardship?  Who's going to restore their reputations within the community?  If indeed the jury acquits the men charged in this case, was this case really as solid as the government made it out to be?  I guess we're going to have to wait till next week to find out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What I've been saying all along...

As we discussed last week in our post "The unindicted co-conspirators in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case...", whether we've talked about the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case, the City of Miami assistant fire chief fraud case or any of the other mortgage fraud cases we've discussed over the last few years there's always been a conspicuous absence from the list of defendants in these fraud cases, the lenders themselves.  Charles Ferguson who directed the fantastic documentary "Inside Job" said it best during his Academy Awards acceptance speech, check it out...

I couldn't have said it better myself...
"Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three year after a horrific financial caused by massive fraud, not a financial executive has gone to jail and that's wrong."
While prosecutors across the country are spending tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars prosecuting street level mortgage fraudsters, no one has lifted a finger to go after the real culprits.  Oh well.

In case you missed it, here's a trailer for the documentary "Inside Job", it should be required viewing for anyone with a pulse!



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Veldora Arthur wants to travel!


You all remember Veldora Arthur, don't you?  In case you did, Veldora is the City of Miami assistant fire chief that was federally indicted as part of a massive mortgage fraud ring a few months back.  Several people have tried to get in touch with Veldora for comment since the indictment only to receive responses like the one we got recently...

 No biggie right?  After all, several different sources told us that even when Ms. Arthur was on the job she only came in half the time and when she did come to work she was busy conducting business that had nothing to do with the fire department.  That's a little tough to stomach considering she was pulling down over $300k per year between her base pay and benefits, what makes it even worse though is that recently I've been told that Ms. Arthur has been on administrative leave with pay since her indictment.  Keep in mind that this should be treated as nothing more than an unsubstantiated rumor for now as I haven't been able to confirm yet.  What I have been able to confirm though is that Ms. Arthur is looking to take a few days off and travel!  Take a look at the motion she filed with the courts for yourselves...

Veldora Arthur Motion to Travel

Nothing wrong with wanting to travel, right?  For the sake of argument, lets say we're civil people that afford Veldora the presumption of innocence, we shouldn't have a problem with her wanting to leave the jurisdiction while she's out on bond, right?  So what's my beef with Ms. Arthur taking off a few days a week to go to the Bahamas and then to the Carolinas?  Consider the economic dire straights the City of Miami is in, take into account the severity of the allegations leveled against Ms. Arthur in her federal indictment and factor in her over $300,000 compensation package as well as the possibility that she may be on administrative leave with pay since her indictment.  Doesn't it seem even more egregious that despite everything that's gone on that Ms. Arthur has the time to be traveling around the Bahamas and the Carolinas while taking six days off from her city job?  Maybe it's not a big deal to some, but for some reason or another it rubs me the wrong way.

On another note, I've been doing research on illegal recordings and wires by police and prosecutors, namely the illegal recordings of a client meetings with their attorneys when I came across this well publicized case that I had nearly forgotten about.  Take a look at this article from the Miami Herald and note the severe punishment the judge gave the prosecutors for conducting these illegal recordings...

ali shaygan ruling against government

There's a certain prosecutor that's been following our blog since it's inception that should be very worried right about now...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why is the government trying to exclude a key defense witness from testifying?

Last week we discussed what we called the "unindicted co-conspirators" in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case, in essence our theory is that the banks that lent the money for what the government alleges were fraudulent real estate transactions were in on the deal.  In other words, the lenders knew about the inflated incomes and the bogus supporting documents on the loan applications, as a matter of fact it seems based on the documents that we've found in the court dockets that the defense has an expert witness that is willing to testify to the lenders complicity in these transactions!  While cruising the court docket I came across this motion...

daryl radziwon motion for expert witness

From the looks of it, it appears that a defense witness named Dr. Gary E. Lacefield, an expert in the area of mortgage fraud, is prepared to testify that the banks involved in these transactions were well aware of what was going on in order to obtain these loans and in fact may have helped encouraged some of the fraudulent behavior that led up to obtaining these loans!  Considering the potential magnitude of Dr Lacefield's testimony, why would the government look to exclude him from the trial?  If indeed Dr. Lacefield could prove that there was lender complicity in all of these deals, isn't the defense entitled to use him?  Check out Dr. Lacefields background here, considering his background, can you guys see any reason why he shouldn't be allowed to testify? 

Friday, April 15, 2011

How many millions of dollars did our government waste on the Barry Bonds prosecution?


After years of relentlessly pursuing baseball star Barry Bonds, the government has finally gotten a conviction against him.  At what cost though?  I can only imagine how many millions of dollars the government has spent let alone what Mr. Bonds has spent defending himself only for the jury to find him guilty on a single count of obstruction of justice!  Does any of this make sense?  How could you possibly justify going after a retired baseball player for simply lying about using steroids when he was playing baseball?

Honestly, doesn't the government have better things to do with their resources?  How could attorney general Eric Holder let his prosecutors waste their precious resources going after someone as insignificant as Bonds?  Consider the type of crimes and rampant corruption that goes on in Miami government alone that goes unpunished, commissioners that routinely perjure themselves, mayors and their staff caught misappropriating millions of dollars of federal money, illegal campaign donations by vendors looking to garner favors from politicians and lobbyists/bag men who get outrageously wealthy by pulling the strings to get their clients whatever they need.  What about the corruption we've talked about within law enforcement?  People's civil rights getting violated every single day, getting denied their rights to due process, prosecutors hiding and fabricating evidence, etc.  None of that is as important as bringing down a washed up baseball player and humiliating him publicly by engaging witnesses and jilted ex lovers who have an axe to grind with him.  

I'll rest a lot easier tonight thinking about Mr. Bonds shriveled balls, growing neck and head, impotency and horrible acne as a result of his steroid abuse while I contemplate the millions of dollars our government has spent only to achieve a nonsensical verdict against an unimportant washed up retired baseball player.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So you think you've been screwed over by a less than honest prosecutor?


Got a horrible story about a prosecutor screwing you over?  Perhaps one where the prosecutor hid exculpatory evidence or maybe fabricated evidence?  I thought I'd heard everything till I heard the story of John Thompson, a man convicted of murder who subsequently spent 18 year in prison, most of them on death row, only to be exonerated by DNA evidence nearly 17 years after he was arrested.  What makes it worse is that he successfully sued the New Orleans district attorneys office and won an 14 million dollar judgment only to have it overturned by the Supreme Court.  He tells his story most eloquently in last weeks New York Times...

I SPENT 18 years in prison for robbery and murder, 14 of them on death row. I’ve been free since 2003, exonerated after evidence covered up by prosecutors surfaced just weeks before my execution date. Those prosecutors were never punished. Last month, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to overturn a case I’d won against them and the district attorney who oversaw my case, ruling that they were not liable for the failure to turn over that evidence — which included proof that blood at the robbery scene wasn’t mine.
Because of that, prosecutors are free to do the same thing to someone else today.
I was arrested in January 1985 in New Orleans. I remember the police coming to my grandmother’s house — we all knew it was the cops because of how hard they banged on the door before kicking it in. My grandmother and my mom were there, along with my little brother and sister, my two sons — John Jr., 4, and Dedric, 6 — my girlfriend and me. The officers had guns drawn and were yelling. I guess they thought they were coming for a murderer. All the children were scared and crying. I was 22.
They took me to the homicide division, and played a cassette tape on which a man I knew named Kevin Freeman accused me of shooting a man. He had also been arrested as a suspect in the murder. A few weeks earlier he had sold me a ring and a gun; it turned out that the ring belonged to the victim and the gun was the murder weapon.
My picture was on the news, and a man called in to report that I looked like someone who had recently tried to rob his children. Suddenly I was accused of that crime, too. I was tried for the robbery first. My lawyers never knew there was blood evidence at the scene, and I was convicted based on the victims’ identification.
After that, my lawyers thought it was best if I didn’t testify at the murder trial. So I never defended myself, or got to explain that I got the ring and the gun from Kevin Freeman. And now that I officially had a history of violent crime because of the robbery conviction, the prosecutors used it to get the death penalty.
I remember the judge telling the courtroom the number of volts of electricity they would put into my body. If the first attempt didn’t kill me, he said, they’d put more volts in.
On Sept. 1, 1987, I arrived on death row in the Louisiana State Penitentiary — the infamous Angola prison. I was put in a dead man’s cell. His things were still there; he had been executed only a few days before. That past summer they had executed eight men at Angola. I received my first execution date right before I arrived. I would end up knowing 12 men who were executed there.
Over the years, I was given six execution dates, but all of them were delayed until finally my appeals were exhausted. The seventh — and last — date was set for May 20, 1999. My lawyers had been with me for 11 years by then; they flew in from Philadelphia to give me the news. They didn’t want me to hear it from the prison officials. They said it would take a miracle to avoid this execution. I told them it was fine — I was innocent, but it was time to give up.
But then I remembered something about May 20. I had just finished reading a letter from my younger son about how he wanted to go on his senior class trip. I’d been thinking about how I could find a way to pay for it by selling my typewriter and radio. “Oh, no, hold on,” I said, “that’s the day before John Jr. is graduating from high school.” I begged them to get it delayed; I knew it would hurt him.
To make things worse, the next day, when John Jr. was at school, his teacher read the whole class an article from the newspaper about my execution. She didn’t know I was John Jr.’s dad; she was just trying to teach them a lesson about making bad choices. So he learned that his father was going to be killed from his teacher, reading the newspaper aloud. I panicked. I needed to talk to him, reassure him.
Amazingly, I got a miracle. The same day that my lawyers visited, an investigator they had hired to look through the evidence one last time found, on some forgotten microfiche, a report sent to the prosecutors on the blood type of the perpetrator of the armed robbery. It didn’t match mine; the report, hidden for 15 years, had never been turned over to my lawyers. The investigator later found the names of witnesses and police reports from the murder case that hadn’t been turned over either.
As a result, the armed robbery conviction was thrown out in 1999, and I was taken off death row. Then, in 2002, my murder conviction was thrown out. At a retrial the following year, the jury took only 35 minutes to acquit me.
The prosecutors involved in my two cases, from the office of the Orleans Parish district attorney, Harry Connick Sr., helped to cover up 10 separate pieces of evidence. And most of them are still able to practice law today.
Why weren’t they punished for what they did? When the hidden evidence first surfaced, Mr. Connick announced that his office would hold a grand jury investigation. But once it became clear how many people had been involved, he called it off.
In 2005, I sued the prosecutors and the district attorney’s office for what they did to me. The jurors heard testimony from the special prosecutor who had been assigned by Mr. Connick’s office to the canceled investigation, who told them, “We should have indicted these guys, but they didn’t and it was wrong.” The jury awarded me $14 million in damages — $1 million for every year on death row — which would have been paid by the district attorney’s office. That jury verdict is what the Supreme Court has just overturned.
I don’t care about the money. I just want to know why the prosecutors who hid evidence, sent me to prison for something I didn’t do and nearly had me killed are not in jail themselves. There were no ethics charges against them, no criminal charges, no one was fired and now, according to the Supreme Court, no one can be sued.
Worst of all, I wasn’t the only person they played dirty with. Of the six men one of my prosecutors got sentenced to death, five eventually had their convictions reversed because of prosecutorial misconduct. Because we were sentenced to death, the courts had to appoint us lawyers to fight our appeals. I was lucky, and got lawyers who went to extraordinary lengths. But there are more than 4,000 people serving life without parole in Louisiana, almost none of whom have lawyers after their convictions are final. Someone needs to look at those cases to see how many others might be innocent.
If a private investigator hired by a generous law firm hadn’t found the blood evidence, I’d be dead today. No doubt about it.
A crime was definitely committed in this case, but not by me.
If you're so inclined, you can read the entire Supreme Court opinion here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The unindicted co-conspirators in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case...


That term "unindicted co-conspirator" has a pretty nice ring to it doesn't it?  By definition the term refers to a person or entity that is alleged in an indictment to have engaged in conspiracy, but who is not charged in the same indictment.  So who could we be referring to?  Who are these co-conspirators that are suspiciously absent from these prosecutions?  After spending nearly a year going through the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud indictment backwards and forwards it seems that the government had indicted almost everyone that had ever had anything to do with the case including but not limited to buyers, mortgage brokers, title agents, closing agents, etc.  So who could have been left out?

Throughout the last few weeks of testimony from the Plantation cops federal mortgage fraud trail we've learned that there was another group of conspirators in the alleged fraud that knew everything that was going on, conspirators that knew about the exorbitant seller contributions, the excessive escrow amounts, earnest monies coming from third parties, borrowers closing on two "primary residences" withing the same months (in some cases the same day), borrowers whose credit reports showed multiple inquiries from mortgage brokers and lenders within days of the transaction they were about to close, etc...  So who were these "unindicted co-conspirators" involved in the Plantation cops case and just about every other case we've written about?  Here's a small listing of this usual suspects...

These lenders were at the center of each and every mortgage fraud case I've written about, none of the frauds we've discussed could have been possible without these guys.  They all knew what was going on, the paperwork proves it.  Even worse, the entire real estate bubble happened because of their lax lending standards and the fact that they looked the other way while their pockets were getting full as a result of them bundling the garbage loans that they wrote into worthless triple A rated mortgage backed securities.  

Haven't we had enough of street level mortgage fraudsters getting racked over the coals during these nonsensical mortgage fraud trials?  When is a prosecutor going to have enough balls to go after the real criminals that got us to where we are today?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another government witness in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial admits to having lied...

"Never talk when you can nod,

and never nod when you can wink,

and never write an e-mail because it's death.

You're giving prosecutors all the evidence we need."
Elliott Spitzer, interview with ABC news, circa 2006 as Attorney General of New York.

Yesterday defendant turned cooperating government witness Jacqueline Elek Trumbore took the stand in the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trail.  From what we understand Mrs. Trumbore worked for Turn Key Title which was owned by attorney Steven Stoll, the title company that handled most if not all of the transactions which are the subject of the federal indictment.  As with the other cooperating witnesses, Mrs. Trumbore cut a deal early on with the government, here's her plea agreement as it appears in the court file...

jacqueline trumbore factual proffer

The problem is though that Mrs. Trumbore claims that she was pressured by her attorneys into taking this plea, the court learned this through a series of emails that were revealed during yesterdays hearings from Mrs. Trumbore to her friends and family.  Here's one of the emails...

Now, lets take a look at that "stipulated proffer letter" that she refers to in her email...

jacqueline trumbore stipulated factual proffer

If Mrs. Trumbore is telling the truth and was indeed innocent of the charges that she plead out to then how's this going to look to the jury?  If you accept the premise that Mrs. Trumbore did not commit the crimes that she plead out to, you have to ask yourself, what kind of criminal defense attorney would tell their client to accept a plea for crimes that they did not commit?

On another note, one of our readers who has left several comments over the last few weeks of posts repeatedly asserts at the end of each comment that every one charged in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud indictment had some level of guilt.  I don't think anyone is going to argue that considering the number of transactions that are in question (60+) and the way the transactions were conducted that everyone involved knew there was something that wasn't above board about their dealings.  My problem with this case is that it seems like the governments efforts are wasted considering there are crimes that are far more severe that go unpunished.  I also understand that the government want's to get their pound of flesh against these fraudsters to show the citizens that they're going after the people that theoretically helped bring the nations economy to its knees.  That's fine, but why not go after the people that were behind deals like the ones we discussed in Coconut Grove nearly two years ago?  Or how about hanging the guys involved in the fraud that occurred at 911 Columbus Blvd by their balls?  These frauds cost banks millions of dollars and were run by a sophisticated ring of criminals yet to this day no one has been punished.  Why not go after these guys rather than trying to persecute these cops who lied on their loan applications and ultimately either paid off the mortgages or are still living in the homes that are in question?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So what happens when a government witness pleads out then is caught lying?

That's a question that several of our readers posed yesterday, what's going to be the fate of cooperating government witnesses Rene Rodriguez Jr and Matt Gulla who were found to be somewhat less than honest in their testimony at the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trial? Both witnesses made startling revelations during the trial and disclosed facts that they somehow forgot to tell the government and their handlers, so what now? In order to get some idea what could happen to these guys we must first take a look at their plea agreements, for today's discussion, let's look at Mr. Rodriguez's plea agreement...

rene rodriguez plea agreement

The first thing that disturbs me is that Mr. Rodriguez executed this plea agreement back on 8/31/09, one full year before the indictment came down. I have to wonder, what was Mr. Rodriguez doing during that year before everyone else was indicted? Do you think he let anyone know what was going on or did he continue doing business and setting up his clients?

From the plea agreement...
  1. The defendant agrees to plead guilty to an indictment to be filed by the United States Attorney's office at a future point in time.
  2. The defendant agrees to plead guilty to the following counts in the indictment to be filed, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349 and one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1341. The defendant understands the maximum statutory sentence under 18 U.S.C. 1349 and 1341 is a period of up to 20 years in prison, maximum term of up to three years supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 as to each count.
So it looks like Mr. Rodriguez is looking at a shit load of time but since he's cooperating with the government they've agreed to argue that in exchange for his cooperation they'll request that his sentence be significantly reduced unless...
...the defendant:
  1. fails or refuses to make a full, accurate and complete disclosure to the probation office of the circumstances surrounding the relevant offense conduct;
  2. is found to have misrepresented facts to the government prior to entering in to this plea agreement; or
  3. commits any misconduct after entering into plea agreement, including but not limited to committing a state or federal offense, violating any term of release or making false statements or misrepresentations to any governmental entity or official.

You don't need to be genius to figure out Mr. Rodriguez's fate after he's embarrassed the government the way he has...

On another note, for those of you following our blog from it's inception, you'll be pleased to know that I'm working on a very interesting lead, a story of a prosecutor making homosexual advances towards a defense witness. Imagine what the bar might think of that?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The "proposed" special jury instructions that resulted from a government witness destroying evidence, another point of view on the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud case and a company that banks hired to fabricate and forge documents

We left off yesterday discussing cooperating government witness Rene Rodriguez Jr. confessing to the court that he had destroyed evidence after he became a witness in the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud case. After presumably hearing several of the defense attorneys argue for the dismissal of the case because of the destruction of possibly exculpatory evidence, the defense proposed special jury instructions that outlined the destruction of the evidence and how it may have impacted the credibility of the governments witness. Here are the proposed jury instructions...

plantation cops special jury instruction regarding the destruction of evidence by Rene Rodriguez Jr

Here are the most interesting bits of the instructions...
...both co-defendants separately admitted to this court, under oath that they "would also forge the purchaser's signature on many documents that were initially submitted to the financial institution and mortgage lending companies."

...after he agreed to truthfully cooperate with the government, co defendant Rodriguez intentionally destroyed documents that were material and pertinent both to the facts of this case, and to Rodriguez's honest compliance with his promise to the Government to be truthful and complete in his cooperation.

...Rodriguez intentionally tampered with computer the extent that the electronic data stored on that computer equipment was destroyed and could not be accessed by the Government or the Defendants.

...this court found after considering the evidence and Rodriguez's testimony, that despite his denials, Rodriguez had indeed intentionally tampered with computer equipment, rendering the information stored on the computers inaccessible to the government and the defense as well. You are also entitled to consider this court's finding that Rodriguez lied under oath... are also entitled to infer...that the electronic information he made inaccessible...were material to the case before you and that they would have established reasonable doubt as to the guilt of each of the defendants.
In other words, there were documents that could have exonerated each and every one of the defendants on trial that have been destroyed and are impossible to retrieve, but rather than dismiss the charges we want you to determine their guilt or innocence without these crucial documents. Am I the only one that doesn't understand this? What am I missing?

Now, let's look to one of our readers that left an interesting comment on our post from last Wednesday regarding the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case..

Anonymous Anonymous said...
In response to the post which states Gulla/Rodriguez made 3%, thus making more than Guaracino, please keep this in mind: 1. Let's assume they made 3% per loan. On a $300,000 loan thier cut was $9,000. 2. On the same property, Guaracino flips it for a $100,000 profit. 3. It is an 11-to-1 ratio in favor of Guaracino. Please explain how Guaracino is a Patsy in these deals???? Furthermore, check the mortgages which were recorded with the county. It is my understanding NOT one of these were forged by the brokers...these defendants are hardly innocent.April 4, 2011 11:39 AM
This comment brings up an interesting point, if indeed the mortgages were actually executed by the cops that were charged in this case, why was Guaracino making $100,000 profit flipping the homes that weren't his? I'll have to do a little digging before we can properly address this comment.

Now comes the best part. After sitting back over the last couple of years and hearing about people who've been arrested for lying on mortgage documents, forging signatures on loan applications, stealing peoples identities for the commission of mortgage fraud or simply lying about their income, I was simply floored when I came across this story last Sunday on 60 Minutes...

DID YOU GUYS GET THAT? Banks hired companies to fabricate loan documents then have fictitious people sign the documents as fake bank VP's who then had their signatures notarized by notaries who knew that the signatures and documents were FRAUDS! Even worse, the banks then used these documents to further perpetrate the fraud on the borrowers who were in foreclosure and the court system! I have to ask, why have these people gone unpunished? Where is our favorite assclown prosecutor? Why is the government destroying the lives of people involved in street level mortgage frauds when you have massive conspiracies like this going on costing the country billions if not trillions of dollars?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Has the Plantation Cops federal mortgage fraud trial officially turned into a circus?


As each day of testimony unfolds during the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trial a seemingly slam dunk case for the government seems to be evolving into a steaming pile of shit.  The newest and most startling revelation is the admission by defendant and cooperating government witness Rene Rodriguez regarding the destruction of his mortgage companies files, we learn about the destruction of the files and computers through this court order...

Plantation cops federal mortgage fraud trial judges order on spoilation of evidence

There are a number of disturbing facts included in this court order, let's break it down...
  1. Mr. Rodriguez has been cooperating with the government since April 2009 and plea out in September 2009, a full year before anyone was indicted!
  2. Unbeknownst to the prosecution or the government agents handling Mr. Rodriguez, all of Mr. Rodriguez's mortgage company's files and computers are destroyed.
  3. The prosecution as of October 25, 2010 stated that they had all the records from Mr. Rodriguez's company (including computers) in it's possession and that they had turned over everything that the defense had been entitled to.
  4. Mr. Rodriguez informs the government on January 11, 2011 that he had destroyed his records and computers that contained evidence that was favorable to the defense.
YIKES!  How screwed up is that?  How can the defendants properly defend themselves when there's been exculpatory materials that have been destroyed by a cooperating government witness?  How could the agents handling Mr. Rodriguez let something of this magnitude occur?  Imagine how bad the prosecutors must look right now considering the representations that had made to the court?  Let's see what the judge thinks about this...
The government was, however, grossly negligent and careless in fulfilling its obligations established by statute, rule, order and case law.  The government breached its affirmative duties to produce documents and other pertinent information.
At least the judge understands the gravity of the situation, I have to wonder, what will a jury think?  The judge goes on to ask...
The question is, what is the appropriate sanction.
While the judge thinks the appropriate sanction is a jury instruction informing the jurors that there may have been evidence favorable to the defendants that was destroyed, I beg to differ.  I think the appropriate action for the judge to have taken would have been to end this trial and dismiss the charges against these poor guys then go after the cooperating witnesses that put the government in this untenable position and prosecute them for the actions which in my opinion dealt a lethal blow to the governments case.

Friday, April 1, 2011

More revelations about a former street gang member and cooperating witness from the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trial...


The Plantation cops federal mortgage fraud trial is getting really interesting, yesterday we learned some really interesting background on one of the defendants charged who has cut a deal and is cooperating with the government.  Here's what our courtroom observer reports to us regarding mortgage broker Rene Rodriguez Jr's checkered past...
Rene was in a gang called circle of sharks he sold cocaine to an undercover officer in Ft Lauderdale.  He witness a stabbing and arson and testified against his fellow gang memebers.  He was arrested for beating up his wife (something him and the case agent share in common), each and every time he made a deal and because his dad was a fed, he made deals with feds and walked each time in this case his dad knew the lead agents boss  fdle SAIC Vic Johnson .
NICE!  So one of the governments key witnesses against the other defendants is a former drug dealing, wife beating gang member.  Funny how the real estate and mortgage business attracted the cream of the crop back during the boom years!!  Now check this comment from Wednesday's post...

Did anybody read the other posts where it says that shrunk down files were presented at the closing.first off you people need to use your own brain,If joe was the brains of the operation why would he let gulla and rodriguez take 3%,and make more money than him.that doesnt sound like the mastermind to me, that sounds more like he was a SUCKER!!!!! Just ask yourself 1 question Why would the mastermind make less money and take more risk??? ANSWER IS a mastermind wouldnt, a PATSY would!!!!!! Also why dont you check rene rodriguez's past. He's a former member of the sharks,a violent gang of older steroid using troublemakers. He got out of that trouble by doing what he's doing now. He's a professional RAT!!!!! He points his finger at other people when the finger should be pointed at him. Why is it so hard to believe that a career criminal might be lying and that a former police officer might be telling the truth! Maybe the BAD people in this are THE BAD PEOPLE!!!!!!! Just in case you need to be hit between the eyes... Matt Gulla & Rene Rodriguez are the BAD PEOPLE!!!
March 30, 2011 8:53 PM
Once again, as the trial progresses it seems like our readers are right on the money.  Back to our courtroom observer...
Yesterday the whole case was hi I'm Rene Rodriguez Joe Guaracino told me to do it.  Which obviously was well coached by the defense.   Today they asked when you were commuting hundreds of frauds in 99-03 before you met Joe who was telling you then.  It was kind of funny.  He admitted today by name that many of the lenders reps.   Were also in on it they knew it and assisted him.  He also stated all of the brokers at family lending group and the lending house and security mortgage where he worked have been committing the same frauds since 99'.  He went on to say yesterday only on joes loans. Today he was asked did you tell the government you made 150k on all your frauds in 06 he said yes then the defense team showed him his deposits into his bank account of close to 1 million for the year, so he was asked did the government know this he said they didn't ask.  So the defense went on to say, So joes deals were only 10% of the business.  He agreed! 
If true, this testimony creates a completely different scenario than what we were presented with before.  Before Mr. Rodriguez took the stand we were led to believe that Joe Guaracino was the ring leader and the rest were his minions who followed his every order.  Based on yesterdays testimony it seems like the mastermind was Mr. Rodriguez and Guaracino and the cop's business was only a small fraction of his overall mortgage fraud business.  
I'm not exactly sure what effect this testimony is going to have on the jury, if nothing else the defense team have done one hell of a job destroying every witness that the government has put on the stand.  I can tell you this much, at least in my opinion I'm finding that the real criminals here are the government witnesses not the people that are on trial.