Friday, September 30, 2011

BREAKING NEWS!!! Veldora Arthur found GUILTY!


This just in, it's confirmed, city of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur and her codefendants were all FOUND GUILTY on all counts in their federal mortgage fraud trial!  Here are the verdicts...

Veldora Arthur Federal Mortgage Fraud Trial Verdict

Pamela Johnson Federal Mortgage Fraud Trial Verdict

Neil Fagan Federal Mortgage Fraud Trial Verdict

To put it lightly, the defense team failed miserably.  Detail coming up a little later this evening.

The cornerstone of Veldora Arthur's mortgage fraud defense...

The most common defense in a mortgage fraud case lately has been "I didn't know what I was signing" or "the brokers screwed me" or my favorite, "who reads all those documents anyway"!  As lame as those excuses may be, somehow they keep popping up throughout all of the mortgage fraud prosecutions that we've discussed lately.  Now we can add that lame ass defense strategy to federally indicted city of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur's bag of tricks.  Here's a quick summary of the expert witnesses opinions that she presented to the jury...

OPINION 1: It is not uncommon for buyers to sign closing documents without reading them.
OPINION 2: Buyers often rely on broker advice in real estate closing transactions.
OPINION 3: A buyer could be unaware of mistakes or fraud in closing documents.
OPINION 4: Some buyers complain after the fact [regarding their] knowledge of what was signed in closing documents.
OPINION 5: Brokers can and have engaged in the practice of “signing” of [sic] the buyer’s signature.
There you have it in a nutshell, the classic "I had no idea what I was doing defense".  There's a small wrinkle in this instance though, come to find out that Veldora herself was a licensed mortgage broker!  Considering the fact that she's a "licensed real estate professional", how far can she get with this "I had no idea what was going on" defense?  In fact the government thinks that her defense attorneys are going to propose to the jury that even though she was a mortgage broker, she actually had no idea how the mortgage business worked!  From one of the government's motions...
...the government anticipates that Arthur will not limit the expert’s testimony merely to the “requirements for obtaining a broker license in 2005 – 2006.” Indeed, the language in Opinion 7 regarding “and qualifications arising therefrom” suggests that Arthur will ultimately have the expert testify about her own level of knowledge/qualifications...

...the government anticipates that defense counsel will attempt to have the expert testify that individuals who obtain a mortgage-broker license are not, in fact, very knowledgeable about mortgage transactions, closings, and loan applications. From there, defense counsel might attempt to have the expert opine about Arthur’s potential level of knowledge and familiarity based on her having obtained a mortgage broker license herself. Essentially, defense counsel will use the expert to attempt to have the jury impute, infer or assume that Arthur herself is one of these people with a mortgage-broker license who allegedly does not know very much about anything pertaining to mortgages, loan applications, and closing-related documents.
Even more bizarre is that fact that even though Veldora's defense rests the blame on the mortgage brokers who allegedly "swindled" her into doing these deals, somehow her attorneys didn't cross examine them in trial.  As if that wasn't bad enough...
What Arthur is attempting to posit through this alleged “opinion” is that because she was walking around in South Florida in 2005/2006 during the real estate market/climate at that time, it somehow should excuse her conduct.

LOL!  So besides the fact that Veldora is the worlds dumbest mortgage broker, now we're to believe that she's involved in this multi million dollar mortgage fraud scheme simply because that was just the way the real estate market was back in 2005/06? 

Good luck with that defense.  The jury's still out, we'll update if there's any new developments.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The jury in the Veldora Arthur mortgage fraud case begins deliberating...


As the title states, City of Miami Assistant Fire Chief Veldora Arthur's mortgage fraud case has been handed over to the jury today.  We'll talk about this case and one of Veldora's defenses in a little more detail tomorrow, for now here are the jury instructions...

Jury Instructions for the Veldora Arthur Federal Mortgage Fraud Trial

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.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Speechless. Sentencing in the Plantation cops case and the government rests it's case against federally indicted city of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur...


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.

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,


Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win! 
Rest in peace Mr. Davis.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The conclusion of the second phase of the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial in the jury's own words...

As we all know by now, the second phase of the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial ended in a mistrial with a hung jury 10-2 in favor of acquittal.  The second phase of this never ending case was the governments attempt to convict alleged ringleader Joseph Guaracino, his brother Dennis and the attorney who owned the title company that the alleged fraudulent transactions went through, Steven Stoll.  After nearly a week of deliberations, the jury let the judge know that they've voted several times and haven't been able to come to a unanimous decision, here's the actual note to the judge...

Presumably the jury is told to go back and deliberate some more and think the case over during the weekend after 5 full days of deliberation in an effort to come back with a unanimous decision, again they tell the judge they can't...

And finally after listing to the intricacies of mortgage and real estate transactions for nearly four months, the jury finally throws in the towel...

An with that, this ordeal came to an end, at least for now.  The government has 70 days to refile the case against the three remaining defendants, you have to wonder though, will they?  Think for a moment what this epic mortgage fraud prosecution has cost the government, nearly five years of investigations, possibly hundreds of interviews and countless hours of scouring over tens of thousands of documents unintelligible to all but the most experienced mortgage and real estate professionals.  And how about the costs of actually trying this case and the one that preceded it?  The government has been at it since the beginning of 2011, first with the first group of defendants and now the second group.  After nearly nine months of slogging this mess through court, what do they have to show for it?  Two convictions out of 6 defendants in the first trial and now a mistrial for the remaining 3 defendants?  Can you imagine trying to justify those results in the private sector considering the millions that have been spent to achieve the two convictions?  Also keep in mind that the two guys convicted were low level members of the alleged conspiracy according to the government.  The government couldn't convict the alleged "big fish" or "mastermind" of this case, Joe Guaracino, let alone the attorney, Steven Stoll, that the government claimed facilitated the transactions in question.  Does this make any sense to anyone?

Now, assume that the government is going to go ahead and retry this case for a moment.  Remember, the prosecution fought tooth and nail to keep any evidence of "lender negligence" out of these two trials.  Defendant Stoll's attorneys even filed a motion to dismiss based on the governments new lawsuits against the banks that were at the center of our nation's economic meltdown.  Although the judge didn't allow the jury to hear about any evidence regarding the banks part in this mess, considering the new actions by the justice department against the lenders, do you think there's a chance in hell that they judge could keep this from the new jury if the case is retried?  The whole concept of retrying a case that ended in with a hung jury seems inherently unfair to me.  Isn't the mere fact that the jury ended in a 10-2 vote, meaning only two people bought the prosecutions case, enough "reasonable doubt"? 

Tomorrow the two defendants that were convicted in the first trial, John Velez and Joseph Derosa, are going to be sentenced in federal court.  I have a hard time understanding how they were convicted yet the other codefendants who were charged with doing the exact same thing they did were not.  Regardless, in light of the outcome of the second phase of the case on Monday, we can only hope that the judge shows some level of leniency towards these guys who have had their lives and careers destroyed by this mess.

Monday, September 19, 2011

BREAKING NEWS! Second phase of the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial ends with a hung jury!

As the title states, our sources tell is that after six days of deliberation the trial ends with a hung jury!  From what we're told it was 10 to 2, which means 10 of the 12 jurors were going to acquit.  The question now is whether or not the government is going to retry the case or just walk away...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beyond a reasonable doubt...


As we sit here after the jury in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case has deliberated for five days without reaching a verdict, we have to consider the definition of the term "beyond a reasonable doubt".  Let's look to the definition...
The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
Think about that for a moment, in order to find a defendant guilty the prosecution must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt to establish the defendants guilt otherwise the defendant is entitled to an acquittal.  How can the prosecution in this case expect the jury to find the defendants guilty in this case beyond a reasonable doubt when the governments main witnesses, the mortgage brokers Rene Rodriguez and Matt Gulla, have admitted to destroying evidence that may have been favorable to the defendants?  Considering the shear volume of fraudulent mortgages Rodriguez and Gulla pulled off, by their own admission a number somewhere in the thousands, wouldn't evidence of their other frauds have been favorable to the defense theory that they were duped by the brokers and their associates as had thousands of others?

Considering the mortgage brokers destroyed evidence of these other frauds thereby making it impossible for the defendants to use the documentation involved to defend themselves, doesn't this in and of itself make it impossible for the prosecution to overcome the burden of reasonable doubt? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Another gem from the folks over at M&M liquors, even the folks in Hialeah know what time it is...

Still waiting on a verdict on the second phase of the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case, considering they're on their fourth day of deliberations, what do you guys think, good or bad?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The jury is still out on the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case and some bad news for City of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur and fellow federally indicted firefighter Thomas Thelusma...

As the title of the post states, the jury is still deliberating on the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case.  While we're waiting for the outcome of that case, let's revisit the trial of federally indicted city of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur.  As we mentioned yesterday her trial has already begun, the jury was picked yesterday and are expected to be sworn in this morning.

There is a bit of bad news for Veldora and fellow federally indicted city of Miami firefighter Thomas Thelusma, as we mentioned earlier this month, both Veldora and Thelusma share a codefendant in their respective indictments, a fellow named Patrick Brinson.  Mr Brinson was indicted in both Veldora's case and Thelusma's case, I predicted that the weight of the government coming down on him on two different massive mortgage fraud indictments was going to be too much for him to bear, it looks like I was right on the money...

Factual Proffer Patrick Brinson

Essentially through his change of plea and his factual proffer, Mr. Brinson has admitted to all the facts of the federal indictment and has also agreed to cooperate fully with the prosecution against his remaining codefendants.   In other words, THEY'RE FUCKED!  

Regardless though, Ms Arthur has now hired a second attorney, Herbert Erving Walker, along with her original attorney Larry Handfield in order to help keep her out of federal prison.  Good luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

As the jury continues to deliberate in the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial, consider what the government doesn't want them to know about.


Here we are after the first full day of jury deliberations for the second phase of the Plantation cops mortgage fraud trial, I'm beginning to get a weird feeling.  See, last Friday the Sun Sentinel published a story regarding the some of the officers from the first phase of the trial, check the headline...

WTF with the timing of this story?  The story is about the cops from the first part of the case, two of them were found guilty and two were acquitted, the two that got acquitted got their jobs back and the back pay and benefits they were entitled to.  Really?  How's this news?  We covered this story almost a month ago!  Why is this news now?  My assumption is that this story was planted by the government over the weekend in order to in some way shape or form influence the jury that was about to render judgement against the remaining defendants.  Dirty trick?  No doubt as it's damn near impossible to get a juror to crawl under a rock and ignore what's in the media regarding a case their deliberating.  

Assuming the intent of this story was to in some way to influence the jurors, maybe we can do a bit of the same?  See the government fought tooth and nail to keep a ton of favorable information from the jurors that could have helped the defense.  Let's take a quick run down of just some of the facts the jurors didn't get to hear...

Defendant Joseph Guaracino cooperated fully with the FBI and FDLE years before there was even an indictment including but not limited to handing over every single shred of documentation regarding all the properties that he ever bought and sold.  Does this seem like the actions of a guilty man?

The government continually insinuated that the defendants tax returns were bogus, yet throughout the trial they were never able to prove the allegations.
The nearly four months of trial were continually peppered with allegations of inflated appraisals for the homes in question, why wasn't this ever proven in court?  Why didn't a single "expert witness" come forward and prove that the appraisals were bogus?

The defendants voluntarily took polygraph tests and passed, why weren't the results allowed in for the jury to consider?

How about handwriting exemplars which proved the defendants on trial didn't forge anything but again the jury wasn't allowed to hear about it.

There were several recordings where the brokers at the center of this mess admitted to forging hundreds if not thousands of documents throughout there careers, yet again the jury wasn't allowed to hear about it.

Most importantly though, why wasn't the jury allowed to hear about the lender negligence, especially when the federal government went ahead and sued all the big lenders for their role in the real estate meltdown that subsequently brought our economy if not the worlds economy to it's knees?

I have no idea how this is going to pan out for the defendants on trial, I just can't seem to understand how the jury can render a verdict when they weren't allowed to hear evidence that in my opinion was crucial to the defense.  We'll have to wait and see, we could have a verdict as early as tomorrow... 

Two city of Miami Chiefs on trial today!

A busy Monday morning, thePlantation cops federal mortgage fraud trial goes to the jury for deliberation, the fate of suspended City of Miami police chief Miguel Exposito is to be decided by the city of Miami commission this morning and it looks like the federal mortgage fraud trial against City of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur is set to being today as well.  

As we wait for the outcome of these three cases, we have to revisit the case of criminal defense attorney Alberto "Al" Milian coming to the rescue of City of Miami city manager Johnny Martinez during Fridays commission meeting.  As our friend Al Crespo eloquently explained, Mr. Milian represents both the illegal gaming industry who the City of Miami police is waring with and now the City of Miami city manager.  I don't know much about law, but that certainly seems like some sort of conflict to me.  From Mr. Milian's statement to the commission regarding his possible conflict...
“Whether my representation of one client would be be adverse to the interests of another or vice versa, and I have taken all of the appropriate legal steps that I’m aware of to insure that I have no conflict, and I have gone beyond and sought wavier of any conflict from any client who thought that representing the manager in that capacity would represent a position adverse to their interests.”
Ok, I'm sure his clients have no problem with him representing the city manager, but the citizens of Miami should have a problem with it!  Let's think this through for a moment, Mr. Milian is allegedly representing several of the alleged illegal gaming machine owners against the City of Miami Police and Chief Exposito in order to get the gaming machines back for his clients.  Based on the goings on at City Hall and what we can deduce by the people surrounding embattled Mayor Tomas Regalado, the only thing between Mr. Milian's clients getting their machines back (which Al Crespo estimates to be worth over $2mm) is suspended Chief Miguel Exposito.  Now we have Mr Milian interjecting himself into the quasi judicial hearings against suspended Chief Exposito on behalf of the city manager Johnny Martinez in an effort to help uphold the managers suspension and subsequent firing of the Chief.  So if he's successful in helping the city manager dispose of the chief, his clients with the gaming machines win as well.  Considering Mr. Milian is working against the city in one case while working with the city on the other, doesn't that create some sort of conflict?  If not a legal one, certainly a moral one in my opinion.  To think, all of this fuss over those god damn machines!

After all, what's all the fuss about?  Anyone who's ever seen one should know that they're strictly for amusement purposes only!  It says it right on the machine!

LOL!  This particular guy with the yellow shirt was so amused that he spend the better part of two hours shuttling between this machine and an ATM machine draining his bank account.  When he walked out of this joint penniless, he certainly didn't seem "amused"!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meanwhile at the City of Miami commission...

Here we are at 12:30 at night watching suspended City of Miami police chief Exposito's quasi judicial hearing before the City of Miami commission and we spot City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado actively participating...

Friday, September 9, 2011

After four month trial, the Plantation Cops federal mortgage fraud trial finally goes to the jury and a quick word about suspended City of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito.


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?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Defendant in the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud case asks for a mistrial! And it looks like a certain Regalado has opened up a new office.


It looks like federally indicted attorney Steven Stoll's defense team hasn't been sleeping much lately.  Just last Monday they filed this excellent motion to dismiss, take a look for yourselves...

Motion to Dismiss by Steven Stoll Based on Lender Negligence                                                                                                   

How ironic?  The prosecution fought successfully to have even the slightest hint of lender negligence withheld from the jury, all the while not mentioning to anyone that since July 2011 the very same government that was fighting so hard to exclude lender negligence from the jury was investigating the very same lenders for “potential fraud related to the origination and/or underwriting of mortgage loans”.  How do you like them apples?!  What have we been saying all along about the banks being the unindicted co-conspirators in these mortgage frauds?! 

It's not bad enough that the government fought to exclude this lender negligence/misconduct from the jury, but by withholding the information regarding the investigation from the defense, they've actually broken the law.  Anyone remember us talking about Brady violations a while back?  Let's take a look at some components of the Brady Rule...

  1. Duty to Disclose: The landmark decision of Brady v Maryland (1963) places an affirmative constitutional duty on a prosecutor to disclose exculpatory evidence to a defendant. This duty has been extended to police agencies through case law, requiring law enforcement agencies to notify the prosecutor of any potential exculpatory information.
  2. Exculpatory Evidence/Brady Material: Evidence in the government’s possession that is favorable to the accused and that is material to either guilt or punishment, including evidence that may impact the credibility of a witness.
The defense team had argued from the get go that the lenders negligence was key to their defense, yet the government didn't want the jury to hear a peep about it, considering the fact that the federal government had an ongoing investigation into the very lenders in question for their conduct and role in the real estate and economic meltdown, didn't the government have a "duty to disclose" this information to the defense let alone the jury?  Even worse, Steven Stoll's attorneys specifically asked for information relating to any government investigation concerning these lenders back in the summer of 2010...
More specifically, by way of letter on August 20, 2010 (a copy of which is attached as Exhibit 3), Mr. Stoll’s counsel specifically demanded disclosure of “[a]ny criminal complaint and/or investigation to any state or federal investigative agency or any civil complaint or administrative action, relating to any lender involved in or associated with any defendant and/or the 68 loan transactions, as well as any civil litigation relating to these lenders.”
The government comes back with...
“[t]he government has no information or documents that are responsive to Defendant’s request #8 concerning criminal and civil complaints and investigations against lenders involved with the 68 fraudulently acquired properties, or associated with any defendant.”
No kidding?  So these massive lawsuits being filed by our government against these lenders recently just appeared out of thin air?  The complaints were just thrown together overnight?  If the Plantation cops mortgage fraud case took nearly 5 years to put together, how the hell are we supposed to believe that the government hadn't done any investigating into their case against the lenders as late as last summer?  BULLSHIT!  Again, from the motion...
Although the Government has acknowledged the continuing nature of its Brady obligations to Mr. Stoll, no disclosure of the Department of Justice investigations or the damning allegations against the lenders regarding their failure to follow underwriting practices was provided to the defense by the prosecution in this case.
Why would the defense expect the prosecutors to hand over exculpatory evidence that could destroy their headline case?  It's not like they're bound to do so by law or anything!  Again from the motion...
To add insult to injury, the Government has actively resisted, and for all intents and purposes, has succeeded in thwarting the defendants’ attempts to introduce evidence of lenders’ willful failure to follow the underwriting guidelines, their financial incentive for doing so, and the resulting impact upon the reliability of the “lender files” in evidence. The Government did so under the guise that there was no evidence that these lenders were engaged in these practices. However, as demonstrated in the 17 complaints recently filed by the Government, as well as existence of one or more Department of Justice investigations into the underwriting practices of these lenders, the Government has taken a diametrically opposed position regarding these lenders elsewhere.
As the record stands, the jury in this case has been deprived of substantial favorable evidence to the defense regarding the lenders’ actions, intent, motive, and the lack of materiality of the statements and alleged omissions in dispute in this case.
Moreover, the Government, in a disingenuous substitute for testimony from lender representatives with actual knowledge of the underwriting and approval of the loans in this case, has presented testimony from former lender employees and purported expert witnesses with no personal knowledge about these loans to testify that the lenders did actually follow underwriting guidelines, and to testify that the statements and alleged omissions in dispute in this case were material to the lenders’ decisions to approve these loans.
In addition to being deprived of the favorable evidence regarding the failure of lenders to follow underwriting guidelines, the Government’s failure to disclose the existence of the investigation(s) of the lenders by the Department of Justice also deprived the defense of the ability to impeach the credibility of the “lender files” being relied upon by the Government, as well as the potential motive and bias of the lender representatives called by the Government as witnesses in this case.
Each of the lender witnesses, having been employed by lenders during a time period when according to the recently filed Complaints they were engaged in massive frauds on government agencies and others purchasing mortgage backed securities, had an undisclosed and unexplored motive to color their testimony so as to minimize their own potential culpability and involvement in the fraud. These witnesses had a similar motive to minimize the culpability of their former lender employers.
Further, if the Government had informed the defendants of the investigation of the lenders, and the fact that the lenders had a financial motive to conceal their failure to follow underwriting guidelines within their own files, the defense would have had the ability to impeach the credibility of the lender files produced in this case, and would have been able to present a compelling explanation for the absence of certain documents (such as conversation logs, escrow agreements, emails, etc.) from the lender files.
The Government, on the other hand, in taking full and unfair advantage of the lenders’ purging of files, has been pointing to the lack of such documents in the files as evidence that the lenders were never aware of the escrow withholds and sourcing of deposits from the third parties.

Accordingly, the Government’s Brady violation has impacted this case in multiple, varied and profound ways to the detriment of Mr. Stoll.
Defendant Stoll's attorneys killed it.  Great job.  The question now is what's the judge going to do?  Will he do the right thing and throw this case out or is he going to cover the governments ass?

In other news, it looks like or least favorite attorney, Raquel Regalado, daughter of embattled city of Miami mayor, Tomas Regalado, has opened up a new law office.  From the Florida department of state's website...

It looks like the Mayor's daughter has opened up a new law office, whose principal place of business is located at 1745 SW 15 st which is located in the city of Miami and just happens to be her home address as well.  So from what we're to deduce from the filings with the state, is Ms. Regalado going to run a law office from her home?  Deja vu anyone?  More importantly though, what happened to Ms. Regalado's gig over at the prestigious IP law firm, Malloy & Malloy?  Is it possible that all the Regalado monkey business of late was a bit much for the well established and conservative principals of the law firm?  Who would want an attorney practicing within their firm with the air of possible pending criminal charges surrounding them?  A quick search of the firms website reveals the conspicuous absence of Ms. Regalado from the firms attorney page, I wonder what happened?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Foreclosure defense guru and Regalado pal’s home in foreclosure and the ultimate irony with all the mortgage fraud cases we’ve discussed.

Amazing as it may seem, foreclosure defense super lawyer John H. Ruiz and Regalado family pal finds himself in the most ironic situation, his home is now involved in a foreclosure suit filed by his lender, Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust. Ironic isn’t it? You can’t turn on Spanish speaking TV here in Miami without seeing Mr. Ruiz’s face plastered all over it barking about how he’ll save your home from the grips of the evil banks that are trying to take it away from you. According to what Mr. Ruiz told the Daily Business Review, the bank has refused to fund the remaining $140,000 balance of a $6.5 million dollar construction loan because the City of Coral Gables has not granted a certificate of occupancy for the home in question. Assuming you need a certificate of occupancy to live in the home, that strikes me as strange as I’ve seen cars parked in front of the house and on occasion have seen someone watching TV inside the house, presumably someone’s living in the home. On the other hand, the foreclosure suit says that Mr. Ruiz stopped paying his mortgage earlier this summer and that he hasn’t paid the last two years of property taxes on the home. What makes this even more unfortunate is that this foreclosure suit isn’t the only misfortune that’s befallen Mr. Ruiz this summer, just a few weeks back Mr. Ruiz’s yacht “Class Action” apparently sunk at his dock.

Regardless, Mr. Ruiz takes the foreclosure suit in stride, from his statement to the DBR… 

That just shows you that nobody’s immune to the bank’s conduct…
Which makes a perfect intro to our next item of business, the bank misconduct that’s been the subject of many new stories of late. Apparently the U.S. government is getting set to file suit against the banks that were at the epicenter of our real estate meltdown for lying about the quality of mortgages they packaged and sold to investors during the peak of the housing bubble. The government is expected to file suit against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to name a few. Isn’t this ironic? The government is basically going to file suit against these banks for lying about the quality and make up of the loans that they were selling as well as the fact that . What makes this all the more ironic is that this is precisely the same behavior the governments go after individuals for in their mortgage fraud prosecutions, in those instances the banks are the victims, in this case I guess the tax payers are the victims?!

We’ve gone through this time and time again, if you’re going to go after the individuals that were involved in these mortgage fraud schemes, you have to go after the banks, in the past we’ve called the lender the “unindicted co conspirators” in these cases. Now that the government has finally agreed and assigned some level of culpability to the banks we have another problem, at least in the instance of the Plantation Cops mortgage fraud trial. From the very beginning the government moved to exclude any evidence of lender negligence from the jury and for reasons unbeknownst to me, the judge agreed. Considering this latest suit the government is filing against these banks, does it make any sense that this lender negligence/misconduct was excluded as a defense strategy for the defendants in this case? Does this make any sense to anyone?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor day LOL!

I came across this gem while reading the comment section from Investigation Miami regarding an interview of city of Miami mayor Tomas Regalado...
He was interviewed by Michael Putney where he said "And we are telling the emploYis da we are going to ponch you, the question is do you want to get ponch in de face or in the arm?"
Anyone who's listened to the Mayor speak knows that his command of the English language is laughable, it looks like he's working on it though.  From his Wiki page...

"In his spare time, Regalado enjoys scrimshaw and takes ESOL classes at Miami Dade College."

That's right, the mayor of a major American city is taking English classes!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who's this Patrick Brinson character? And so much for Veldora Arthur's motion to dismiss her indictment...

In researching City of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur's mortgage fraud case we've come across a new character that wasn't part of the original federal indictment, a guy named Patrick Brinson.  Somehow in all the hoopla over her indictment I managed to overlook Mr. Brinson, as we discussed yesterday, Mr. Brinson has come forward with a motion to dismiss the federal mortgage fraud indictment on the grounds that his rights to a speedy trial had been violated.  The government submitted an accurate accounting of the actual days that are to be counted towards his "speedy trial" time frame yesterday and pretty much closes the door on that motion...

Speedy Trial Report for Patrick Brinson and Veldora Arthur                                                                                                   

So who is this Patrick Brinson?  According to the government, Mr. Brinson was indicted on February 11, 2011 with the group that Veldora was involved in, but then something interesting happens just thirteen days later, Mr. Brinson gets indicted for mortgage fraud again...

Second Federal Mortgage Fraud Indictment for Patrick l. Brinson                                                                                                   

Now, among other things this creates a problem for Veldora and her other co-defendants, fighting one federal indictment is tough but doable but fighting two simultaneously is something else all together.  You may have a decent chance of marshaling your resources and getting out from under the weight of a federal investigation and subsequent criminal trial, but when the government slams you with a second similar indictment, the chances of you being able to defeat both go up exponentially.  If I had to guess, I'd say that at some point in the near future, Mr. Brinson will cut a deal and testify against his co-defendants unless he has a massive war chest set aside for defending both indictments.  This could potentially be the remaining co-defendants worse nightmare.

Regardless of what Mr. Brinson decides to do, there's another interesting detail that bears mentioning, let's take a look the first page of his mortgage fraud indictment again...

Take a look at those two items indicated by the red arrows, co-defendant David Lam and a community called Versailles.  For those of you who've been following another federal mortgage fraud case involving another veteran City of Miami firefighter, the name and community may sound familiar, anyone remember Thomas Thelusma?  Here's a copy of his indictment...

Thomas Thelusma Federal Mortgage Fraud Indictment

It looks like Veldora Arthur's co-defendant Patrick Brinson was also indicted in a mortgage fraud involving homes in the Versailles community in Palm Beach along with David Lam who was indicted with Thomas Thelusma in another alleged mortgage fraud scheme in the very same community!  That's a tight group of people over at the city of Miami fire department, isn't it now?

What remains to be seen though is how much longer will she be on paid administrative leave?  Or worse, what happens if she's found guilty?  Will the she still collect a paycheck from the city if she's behind bars?  Oh well.  Veldora's trial is just around the corner, we'll see what happens soon enough. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Veldora Arthur wants her federal mortgage fraud indictment dismissed!

Sure, why not?  While cruising the court dockets last  night, I came across this gem of a motion from federally indicted City of Miami assistant fire chief Veldora Arthur's attorney...

Motion to Dismiss Veldora Arthur

Nice try but don't hold your breath waiting for the judge to grant this motion.  It looks like after all the defendants attorneys had agreed to postpone the trial date due to the 14,000+ pages of discovery, Ms. Arthur's new attorney has now decided that somehow despite the fact that the defense attorneys were unanimous in their request for a postponement Ms. Arthur's rights to a speedy trial have been violated!  Good luck with that.  The prosecutors answer with this...

Govts Response to Motion to Dismiss Patrick Brinson

So who's this new character in the Veldora Arthur mortgage fraud scheme, Patrick Brinson?  And what about this new attorney?  We'll discuss tomorrow, you'd be surprised who Mr Brinson is linked to.  Regardless, you can count on this case going to trial in ten days...