By Albert Samaha
By Darwin BondGraham
By Keegan Hamilton
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By Anna Merlan
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By Tessa Stuart
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But Perez, who seems to be kind of the Zelig of Miami criminal activity, also shows up in the prosecution of three Miami men for defrauding Bank of America customers by stealing money from their accounts. One of those men, Juan Diaz, claimed that it was Perez who conceived the scheme and secretly got money from it.
The government named Perez as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case but never charged him. Through his lawyer, Jose Herrera, Diaz claimed that in fact, Perez recruited him, trained him, and used him as "a conduit to accomplish the scheme."
"The government is aware that the current 'scheme' was conceived by Angel Jose Perez, an individual who, at that time, was working under the supervision of law enforcement," Herrera argued in a brief. "Diaz was snookered by this professional con man, Angel Jose Perez, whose ability to deceive seasoned law-enforcement officers speaks for itself."
Despite the fact that Perez was never charged, U.S. Secret Service records obtained by the Voice show that one of the hacked accounts was traced to a Comcast e-mail account in Perez's name. Perez was in a house when the feds served a search warrant in March 2009. After the raid, Perez told investigators he had knowledge of Diaz's illegal activity.
Perez lived with Diaz for six months during the period. Another defendant in addition to Diaz claimed Perez recruited her into the fraud. And the federal prosecutor herself, Aurora Fagan, wrote, "Arguably, Angel Perez can be considered a seventh defendant."
Moreover, withdrawals from the hacked account were made at the Seminole casino, the same place where Perez gambled all that money.
So, if you believe Diaz, Perez was involved in a multimillion-dollar fraud, and the government didn't lift a finger to stop him. "Perez is conspicuously absent from this case and only the government is able to explain why," Herrera wrote.
The government described Perez as a minor player.
When Diaz sought to depose ICE agent Mack Strong, one of Perez's government handlers, the feds objected, refusing to authorize Strong to testify about Perez's work as an informant or his criminal activity.
In a letter to Strong, Howard Marbury, a lawyer for ICE, wrote, "You are not authorized to discuss whether Perez was in fact a confidential informant for ICE or any information regarding misconduct by Mr. Perez that is not directly linked to defendant Diaz."
Incredibly, the feds argued the "public interest" in not disclosing information about Perez's work was more important than Diaz's need for a fair trial. It sounded like the government was trying to avoid embarrassing revelations in the press.
"The public interest in not disclosing information regarding whether Perez was an informant is exceedingly strong," prosecutors wrote.
Summing up Perez's career, prosecutor Everdell wrote: "Perez is a recidivist who has been repeatedly convicted of various serious crimes and has not been deterred from further engaging in the most outlandish type of criminal activity. In the past, he has engaged in nearly every category of criminal depravity.
"Perez is a convicted rapist. He has falsified immigration documents. He has orchestrated the theft of automobiles and defrauded automobile dealers. He has repeatedly defrauded individuals of funds from their bank accounts. He is a carjacker. There are numerous other arrests for which no disposition was reached." He was in the U.S. only 10 years when he did all of this.
Everdell adds, "In spite of his only reported sources of income being two questionable businesses, he purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars in casino chips in less than a year."
And what's the lesson of this case? "The moral to the story is, regrettably, it happens too often," Herrera says. "You're dealing with people you want to be manipulative, while at the same time, you want them to remain honest to your needs. That's an oxymoron. It's impossible. When you jump in bed with dogs, you get up with fleas."
What's Perez doing right now? Well, he's on the witness list in the upcoming trial of one Travis Stubbs, a convicted murderer who is—and this might sound familiar—accused of plotting to murder two Miami prosecutors.
In other words, a guy who made up a phony plot to kill a federal prosecutor is now considered a useful witness in a real plot to kill state prosecutors.
As another immigrant was known for saying, what a country.
It's a strange leap to say that it must be because a client is "toxic" that his defense attorneys wouldn't speak to the media. There are many more obvious reasons why conscientious, wise attorneys wouldn't speak to the media, and the author should be very aware of them.
It's not so simple. Attorneys are working hard to discredit the case against Stubbs. They might just do it.