Like so many others, Yovaris Pardo fled Havana and seemed to have found a happy new life in South Florida.
In 2004, Pardo and her husband Rogelio built a four-bedroom house in Homestead; eventually, the couple had three boys, who loved laughing and dancing with their parents by the pool. In 2009, Pardo discovered a new passion: cake-making.
That December, she created an extravagant white cake with a blue crown for her youngest son’s first birthday. The next year, she took a professional course and learned to make desserts in the shape of realistic-looking pink flowers and cute jungle animals. On graduation day, she stood proudly next to her final project: an elaborate five-layer wedding cake topped with a rose bouquet and lace. That July, Pardo announced she was opening a business, Cake Fantasies, and was available for orders.
But she didn’t stay in the cake business for long.
Within a few months, Pardo and her husband had declared bankruptcy, court records show. A few years later, the cake maker was caught operating an altogether different kind of business: illicit counterfeiting.
In April 2013, according to a federal grand jury indictment, Pardo was nabbed using a fake credit card at a North Miami Pep Boys. It would get worse from there. A couple of months later, federal authorities, executing a search warrant, searched the trunk of Pardo’s car and discovered an enormous one-woman counterfeit operation: dozens of fake driver’s licenses, debit cards, credit cards, social security cards, tax information, and notebooks full of scrawled information.
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Altogether, the onetime pastry chef had more than 1,300 illicit numbers — and not only from living victims. She also had numerous printouts of death records, as well as social security numbers of the deceased; investigators found on her laptop another 4,000 death record search results, along with pictures of credit card skimmers and readers, fraud software, and evidence that the 40-year-old married suburban mother subscribed to “fraud programs.”
On June 25, Pardo pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to the scam, including one count of possession of counterfeit access devices, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. As part of the plea deal, she agreed to cooperate fully with investigators and turn over her Toshiba laptop and $200,000 — the amount authorities say she profited from the scam.
Virlenys Palma, Pardo’s attorney, was out of town, according to her office; Palma did not return New Times’ email request for comment on the case.
Pardo is scheduled for sentencing September 10.