An old adage holds that truth can never be fully suppressed. Such is the case for several wealthy people who lost millions in a mortgage fraud scheme orchestrated by a trusted colleague. On June 27, a 54-year-old Miami Beach, Florida, man pleaded guilty to his role in collecting roughly $20 million in fake mortgages tied to a series of properties he owned on Collins Avenue

As stated in the plea agreement, the defendant assumed two of his business partners’ identities in order to purchase beach properties in their names. He later took out mortgages on those properties and kept all of the proceeds for himself. Per the terms of the plea deal, the defendant admitted to one count of mail fraud. His sentencing hearing is upcoming in early September.

This deal represents a fairly favorable outcome considering his past. He is already serving a five-year stint in prison for his role in swindling a professional football player out of millions during a bogus restaurant scam.

Back in 2007, the defendant agreed to wear a wire and video cameras while working as a confidential informant for the Miami-Dade police. It is unclear exactly what compelled him to go undercover, but the defendant claimed he had personally bribed city planners and building officials. The investigation using the defendant’s secretly gathered information helped snare three Miami Beach, Florida, building officials.

Federal defendants in mortgage fraud cases need to know that federal investigations are usually thorough and well-documented. Defendants in many of these types of cases can benefit from having someone on their side who has the experience to sift through the mountains of evidence the prosecution has complied and find inconsistencies.

Additionally, defendants who wish to plead to lesser charges in order to serve less prison time would be well-served to have a strong negotiator helping to ensure they get the best possible deal under the circumstances.

Source: Miami Herald, “Former Miami Beach developer Michael Stern faces more prison time in fraud plea”, June 30, 2014

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