The orishas must be looking out for Carlos Valdes. We wrote this week about the local Santería priest's legal battle with Kellyd Rodriguez -- a man Valdes says has stalked his family for four years because he hates the Afro-Cuban religion.
Yesterday Rodriguez, who was out on bond on the stalking charge, was arrested again. This time he's looking at up to 60 years in jail for allegedly helping to bilk more than 500 Floridians out of $750,000 in an advanced fee scam. "It's good that he's back in jail," Carlos's wife, Marisela, tells Riptide.
Rodriguez, a 32-year-old with one previous felony stalking charge, was arrested yesterday along with three other co-owners of a firm called Best Value Homes Inc.
The Kendale Lakes-based company called homeowners around Florida offering to modify their mortgages, according to Attorney General Pam Bondi's office.
Rodriguez and his cohorts would then demand $1,500 to $1,700 in upfront fees -- a violation of state loan regulations -- and then never follow through with any loan modifications, Bondi says.
Kellyd Rodriguez and his three codefendants -- Ronald Rodriguez, Zoar Rodriguez, and Berta Cabrera -- bilked as many as 500 victims for $750,000 after 2008, according to prosecutors.
He's facing up to 60 years in jail if convicted of felony racketeering and organized fraud.
The new charges won't change Valdes's push to charge Rodriguez with a hate crime for allegedly stalking his family and his Santería followers.
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But he does feel better, he tells Riptide, knowing Rodriguez is back in custody. "It's very good news," he says.
Rodriguez's attorney, Arturo Hernandez, wasn't available to comment on the new charges. We'll update the post when we hear back.