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The bizarre thing is that despite his convictions and all the arrests, Perez served zero time in prison. "Perez had been cooperating for years, essentially working off cases in the state court in Florida," prosecutors wrote.
Perez also used his time outside prison to visit the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood in 2008 and 2009, where he lost $151,510. Records also show he was driving a series of luxury vehicles, including a Mercedes-Benz, a Range Rover, and a Ferrari F430.
He was required to disclose his gambling to the feds, but they claim he did not. Anyway, his gambling put him in debt, and that was the true motive for what happened next, the feds claim.
On March 25, 2009, Perez contacted his handlers at ICE to claim he had heard that two men wanted Michael Garcia, the former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, "eliminated" and "put into the ground." The source of the assassination plot was "Edwin Pou," who supposedly worked for Ernesto Castillo, the leader of the largest drug trafficking organization in the Dominican Republic. Castillo had been indicted and convicted in New York by Garcia's office.
The U.S. Marshals Service placed Garcia and his family under 24-hour protection. His security detail also included FBI agents and police. "Garcia was forced to experience a unique psychological and emotional stress associated with believing that a team of assassins, hired by a powerful overseas criminal organization, was hunting him at the location where he lived with his family," prosecutors wrote.
Despite Perez's horrendous record as an informant, FBI agents gave him a cell phone to communicate with the supposed hit men. Agents issued numerous orders for pen registers, cell sites, and wiretaps. Perez introduced the two supposed plotters, who were in the Dominican Republic, to an undercover FBI agent. That meeting was videotaped.
Then, in April 2009, ICE agents discovered that Perez was carrying a secret second cell phone to repeatedly contact the two so-called hit men, Edwin Pimentel Tejada and Marco Antonio Abad De La Cruz.
When the feds confronted Perez, he admitted speaking with them on the second cell phone but denied talking about the case.
Meanwhile, Perez demanded money and insisted the government move 27 of his relatives from the Dominican Republic to the United States. ICE began that process, getting them visas and temporary homes.
De La Cruz and Tejada were arrested in the Dominican Republic on May 15 and 16. They told investigators the whole thing was a hoax. Perez had promised to pay the men, both unemployed and poor, $5,000 to play along. Perez, they said, would call in advance of making a recorded call and tell the men what to say to appear like assassins.
When the feds sent an undercover agent with Perez to meet with the presumed assassins in the Dominican Republic, Perez not only secretly revealed the agent's status to the two men before the meeting but also briefed them about what to say.
On June 18, 2009, Perez, De La Cruz, and Tejada pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, impeding official function, and wire fraud. Perez claimed he made $10,000 a year in Miami, had no savings or checking accounts, and lived with his mother.
"As a sophisticated individual and a longtime informant, Perez was doubtless aware that the U.S. Government has offered and awarded millions of dollars in rewards," prosecutors wrote. "It was precisely Perez's status as a longtime informant... that allowed [him] to perpetrate the fraud."
On November 24, 2009, Perez gave a soliloquy to a New York judge: "I live in Florida, and I am working for the government," he began. "My family is in danger in Florida, somebody tried to kill my family in Florida... Why am I here? I need time to speak to my office [ICE handler] to explain exactly what happened. I want to explain to the FBI, call to National Security. I never lied to the government. Never.
"I need to speak to the prosecutor or the FBI to give some information — the true information nobody knows for this case."
Little further of note happened in the case, until September 9, 2010, when Perez, in another monologue to the judge, stated, "I was approximately nine years working for the government... I understand there are a lot of corrupt officers in Miami and Santo Domingo, and it's no good for them if I open my mouth."
This intriguing statement was ignored in court.
By November 8, 2010, all three men had pleaded guilty. De La Cruz and Tejada were soon released, but Perez admitted his deceit to the judge. "I thought [the feds] would pay me for this information," he said. He is awaiting sentencing.
Meanwhile, Perez, who seems to be kind of the Zelig of Miami criminal activity, also shows up in the prosecution of three men accused of defrauding Bank of America customers. One of those men, Juan Diaz, has claimed Perez conceived the scheme.
The government named Perez as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case but never charged him. And it is fighting efforts to get his ICE handlers to testify, claiming the "public interest" in not disclosing information about Perez's work is more important than the accused man's need for a fair trial. "The public interest in not disclosing information regarding whether Perez was an informant is exceedingly strong," prosecutors wrote.
The reason seems pretty clear.