After a long arduous four months, the Plantation cops federal mortgage fraud trial finally went to the jury yesterday. The jury has requested to take today and the remainder of the weekend off, so deliberations won't begin till Monday at the earliest.
Let's take a quick look at some twists and turns of the governments case against former Plantation cop Joe Guaracino and his brother Dennis. At first the government argued that the alleged mastermind of the frauds got nearly a million dollars back in total from the real estate transactions that are at the center of the federal indictment. The governments position was that that Guaracino and company scammed the closings through questionable huds and purchase contracts but during the course of the trial the defense proved that every penny that Guaracino got from these closings plus nearly a million of his own money was put back into these homes through renovations in order to make them suitable for resale at a profit. In closing, the government moves away from their original theory and instead personally attacks Guaracino for among other things being a gambler!
What the prosecution couldn't get around though was the fact that the homes in question were sold and the banks who lent the money were paid back. The governments theory was that the banks were the victims of this alleged mortgage fraud scheme, my question then is why weren't any of these alleged "victims" ever brought in to testify? There wasn't a single lender that was allegedly exploited by Guaracino and his group ever brought before the jury to testify, not a single one, no one that had anything to do with reviewing and approving these loans was ever brought before the jury. I wonder why?
So how could you put a case like this together? How could you indict a bunch of cops and two attorneys that have no previous records of misconduct with such a flimsy case? I'm going to guess there was some sort of motivation from the higher ups at the Plantation PD who had a vested interest in bringing these guys down. I'm trying to figure it out myself, I should have some better answers by Monday.
Now, on to the mess in the City of Miami and suspended police chief Miguel Exposito. Over the last couple of months all you hear about in the media and the blogosphere is how stupid the chief is, what a dimwit his second in command is, etc. Let's think about that for a second, could Chief Exposito really be an idiot? Remember, Mayor Regalado hand picked Expo to replace former city of Miami police chief John Timoney within hours of the mayor taking office. All Expo had to do from that point forward was to chill out and be the Mayors yes man and his job would be safe. Fire this guy, promote that guy, look the other way on this matter, make some files disappear on another matter etc. Follow the mayors orders and as long as the mayors got his job, so do you. Easy enough right? Instead of falling in line and being a doormat like city manager Johnny Martinez, Expo and his gang decided to take on illegal gambling in the City of Miami. Anyone who lives in Miami is intimately familiar with these illegal gambling machines aka "Makinitas", take a look at one of them in action courtesy of our friend Frank Alvarado over at the Miami New Times...
From the New Times article...
Machines like the ones German operates have been the lynchpin of Exposito's accusations against Regalado. The embattled police chief claims the mayor meddled into criminal investigations and raids involving illegal gambling at city cafeterias and bodegas. In October, Regalado championed an ordinance that would fine merchants $500 and allow them to keep the machines, instead of arrest them on state misdemeanor charges of illegal gambling.Think about it for a moment, if the Chief was such an idiot, why would he go against his benefactor, Mayor Regalado, who's rumored to be in bed with the organizations that are behind these machines? Why would he risk a cushy six figure plus job? My opinion? Regardless of the perceived inadequacies of Expo and his crew, at the end of the day they saw theses machines and the people behind them for what they were, nothing more than an illegal racket that preyed on the poorest people of our beloved city and he decided to go after them. Does that make him an idiot or was he simply doing what any law enforcement officer was supposed to do? In my opinion, idiot or not, you can't fault the guy for doing his job.
The fight against these machines and their owners may have cost the Chief his career, but trust me, if Expo gets fired today, he's not going to go away quietly, we can expect a hefty whistle blower lawsuit from the Chief in short order, then there's the matter of all those federal criminal investigations that the Chief initiated against the Mayor and his crew, it's just a matter of time before all that ugliness comes to the surface. Let's not forget about those pesky wiretaps! How is the Mayor going to explain all that away?