A man who cashed checks for three women involved in a pair of real estate scams that ripped off 15 victims recently pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts of racketeering, grand theft, and uttering a forged instrument. For his crimes, Johnny Bou Nassar will get two years of house arrest plus 15 years. He got a sweetheart deal in exchange for flipping on Ayda Young and Yohany Garcia, two women with previous arrests for fraud who allegedly orchestrated the schemes. Miami New Times was the first news outlet to expose them in 2011.
Nassar, Young, Garcia, and another accomplice Zoraida Abreu, were arrested last year following a criminal probe by the Miami-Dade Inspector General's Office and the county police department. Abreau pleaded guilty in May and received 15 years probation. She also has to snitch on Young and Garcia as part of her deal.
Nassar and Abreu also agreed to pay restitution and investigative costs. The quartet's racket involved using a fake company called Miami-Dade County Short Sales Inc. to lure victims into believing they were getting rock bottom prices on real estate. In one scheme, the victims were falsely led to believe that the three women were in collusion with a County employee who could facilitate the pre-sale of a delinquent property prior to the scheduled public auction to satisfy the tax certificate holders. That was a lie. They had no inside source.
In another scheme, the ladies lured buyers into believing that they were purchasing lucrative short sale properties. However they had no legal authority to sell any of the properties they purported to broker. For both schemes, victim losses ranged from $6,000 to over $500,000. Young, Garcia, and Abreu swindled a total of $2.4 million, most of it in cashier's checks they cashed at check cashing stores operated by Nassar.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.