Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Missing the target...
Go back and read the comments sections of our last weeks worth of posts and you'll find long winded diatribes both for and against the defendants in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial. Things like, Joe Guaracino is a crook, this guy drives a Corvette (the horror!), the other guy has a small penis, this one's innocent, the other guy's guilty, the jury did the right thing, the jurors are idiots, etc. So much emotion, so much anger, yet everyone seems to be missing the point.
Let's say for the sake of argument that the defendants charged in this nearly five year long investigation that's come to be known as "operation copout", were guilty. Say the government was right, they lied about their incomes, they fudged where the down payments for the homes in question came from, let's even assume there was some level of complicity from the attorneys charged as well, what's the net result? Remember, all the loans in question were paid back with the exception of a few that were under Guaracino's personal name, so in a nutshell, assume these guys were guilty of all of those things but in the end the banks all got their money back plus profits.
Now, with that assumption made, look at what was learned during trial, the mortgage brokers who made all these alleged crimes possible walked with a slap on the wrist and a $500 fine. Granted, they're going to do two or three years behind bars but anyone remember what they admitted to? Both Matt Gulla and Rene Rodriguez admitted to committing fraud on every loan they had processed over the last decade! While the government calculated the alleged Guaracino involved frauds to be somewhere in the +/- $16mm range, imagine the dollar figure for the frauds these mortgage brokers must have been involved with? It's easily in the hundreds of millions if not in the billion dollar range! We're talking a decade worth of loans, perhaps thousands of frauds. With that in mind, does the governments strategy of going after the cops really make sense? The brokers got immunity for all the other crimes they committed in exchange for their testimony against the cops that were charged as part of "operation copout", does that seem correct? At least in my opinion it doesn't. I thought that going after the mortgage brokers seemed like a more plausible scenario and therefore using the cops to testify against them, instead we got this wacky prosecution where in the end the real culprits, the real masterminds got away. Does anyone believe for a moment that Guaracino and his group of cops were the only group that the brokers worked with? Throughout the history of this case we've had plenty of people come forward and tell us that there were groups of teachers, firefighters and other cops that were all working with Gulla and Rodriguez on similar deals, why didn't anyone investigate those transactions?
The truth of the matter is that the guys who were the subject of the governments prosecution in this case were small potatoes. The "big fish", "masterminds" or "ringleaders" weren't the cops or even the lawyers that were charged, they were the mortgage brokers who in retrospect got the best deal of all considering the magnitude of their crimes. Whether the untold millions worth of fraudulent loans or destroying evidence, these guys should have gotten decades in federal prison, instead we're left with nearly 9 months of trials that seemed to never end and a two low level players whose convictions will probably be overturned on appeal. That hardly sounds like justice to me.