Our comments section has been abuzz over the last few days, first with the second phase of the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial ending in a hung jury and now with the sentencing of the two cops convicted in the first trial, John Velez and Joseph Derosa, being sentenced today. I was frankly very startled to learn that in light of the outcome of the second case and the fact that 4 of the six defendants from the first case were acquitted, the court seems to have thrown the book at these guys.
John Velez was sentenced today to 42 months in federal prison, Joseph Derosa received 37 months in federal prison and three years of probation. Mr. Velez was found guilty of one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements on a hud. Mr. Derosa was found guilty of one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of "making false statements within the jurisdiction of hud". Does 37 or 42 months seem commensurate with those charges? Hardly in my opinion and even worse when you take into consideration the fact that the banks that were the alleged "victims" of Mr. Velez and Mr. Derosa's scheme have done far worse than they have and to date they've gone unpunished. What makes this even more outrageous is the fact that both Velez and Derosa had no records! Let's not forget that before this mess these guys were cops!
Now, if that wasn't enough to get your blood boiling, let's take a look at what the cooperating defendants got. We'll start with the mortgage brokers, the two crooks at the center of this mess who admitted to forging hundreds if not thousands of documents, two fraudsters that admitted to committing fraud on nearly every single loan they processed over the last decade, what did the government hit these guys with? Matt Gulla got 34 months and his partner Rene Rodriguez gets 43 months with each one of them having to pay $500 in restitution each. How's that for justice?! These two characters were responsible for hundreds of millions, perhaps several billion dollars worth of fraud and they get off this lightly? Judging by the severity of the convicted cops sentences, shouldn't these two get the chair?!
So here were are after nearly five years worth of investigating, almost 8 months of trials and this is the best we can do? I'd love for someone to do a cost benefit analysis of just how much it cost to achieve the two convictions that resulted from "Operation Copout". Any wonder why our government spending is out of control?
On another note, we're being told that the government has rested its case against federally indicted City of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur. This case seems to be moving at a much faster clip that the other federal mortgage fraud trials we've been watching, I suspect the trials going to be over within the next ten days. I'm also told that Veldora herself plans on testifying, that in and of itself should make for some interesting theater.
As if this week wasn't bad enough, we also had the execution of convicted murderer Troy Davis. Despite the fact that seven of the nine eyewitnesses from his trial have recanted their testimony against him, the fact that a murder weapon was never found as well as plenty of other disturbing facts that created more than enough reasonable doubt as to his guilt, the state of Georgia seemed hellbent to kill this man, they finally did yesterday. I'm not going to rehash what's already being said about this state sanctioned murder of a man who may have been innocent of the crime he was convicted of, instead I'll leave you with this letter Mr. Davis wrote just before his death...
I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.Rest in peace Mr. Davis.
As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.
I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist.
So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.
I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,
“I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”
Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win!