In 2014, I came to Miami, Florida from Brazil with my wife for a vacation. I intended to visit my mother who lived in South Florida at the time. During 2006 and 2007, my mother and her new husband worked as mortgage brokers. They also purchased real estate as an investment. What I did not know was my mother and her husband purchased several properties using my name without my knowledge. Apparently, they got an employee to notarize my forged signature on numerous documents. Unfortunately, during the real estate crash of 2008 they lost all of the properties in foreclosure. The banks lost a lot of money.
I was shocked when several federal agents told me that they were there to arrest me for bank fraud. At my bond hearing the Assistant United States Attorney told the Judge that I was a risk of flight since I was not a U.S. citizen and lived in Brazil. The government lawyer presented a summary reflecting the trips I made back and forth between the United States and Brazil. The Court denied bond and ordered pretrial detention. My mother, step father, a banker and the notary were also arrested.
My father and my closest friends searched for an attorney to represent me. Because we were from Brazil, we knew that Helio Castroneves, the Brazilian race car driver who won the Indy 500 race three times, lived in South Florida. We also knew that he won his criminal tax trial in Miami. His lawyer was David Garvin. My father made arrangements to meet Mr. Garvin.
My father hired Mr. Garvin to represent me. Mr. Garvin visited me in jail 2 or 3 times a week. We reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents. Together we knew every angle of the case. Mr. Garvin coordinated with my father and my wife and he was able to prove that on the dates that many of the documents were purportedly signed by me and notarized, I was in Brazil or another country. The very schedule that the AUSA used to convince the Court to deny my release on bail showed that I was out of the country on dates that the notary claimed I signed bank loan applications.
All of the co-defendants wanted to delay the trial. Mr. Garvin and I wanted to go to trial as soon as possible. The government initially fought against us. Ultimately, the Court granted our motion for a separate trial. Finally, we had a trial date. Being incarcerated in the federal detention center was terrible. All of the inmates repeatedly told me that the government never loses and I would get even more jail time for demanding a trial. Mr. Garvin and my family gave me the courage to deny all plea offers and demand a trial. I knew that I was 100% innocent.
After 6 long months, and shortly before the date of my trial, the AUSA decided that there was enough evidence to convince him to drop my case. All the other defendants ended up pleading guilty. I cannot tell you what it meant to be vindicated. The stress was incredible. I am grateful for my family and my friends support. I am thankful that David Garvin took my case.