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No error found in mortgage fraud guilty plea

Rodriguez challenged her guilty plea to conspiracy to commit the federal crimes of mail fraud and wire fraud arguing that her plea was not knowing or voluntary. She also claimed her plea should not have been accepted by the district judge because she told the district judge she suffered from a mental illness. She also challenged the sentence imposed. The court of appeals found no error. Rodriguez pleaded guilty for her participation in a mortgage fraud scheme involving fraudulent loan applications submitted to lenders across the country to obtain loans and properties in Miami-Dade County and in Broward County. The scheme used straw buyers who had no intention of residing in the purchase properties. The loan applications contained false employment verifications, false paystubs, and false deposit verifications. The guideline range came to 78 to 97 months, but the district court gave her a sentence below the guideline range to prevent disparity with co-conspirators.

Because Rodriguez’s guilty plea challenge was raised for the first time on appeal, the court of appeals reviewed for plain error. During the plea she indicated that she had undergone treatment for mental than illness for the year following her arrest and was under the care of a psychologist. The court of appeals found that she had a full opportunity to do to consult with her Attorney during the guilty plea hearing. There was no evidence indicating an inability to consult with her attorney or to understand his advice to her. Similarly, there was no evidence to indicate she was not competent to enter the plea. The court found that the colloquy satisfied the provisions of rule 11.

The court of appeals rejected the defendant’s plea challenge on the grounds that there was and in sufficient factual basis to accept her plea. The court determined that Rodriguez confirmed at the plea hearing that she committed the offense, and it found a sufficient factual basis for the plea.

The court of appeals rejected the defendant’s challenge to the $12,000,000 loss, which resulted in a 20 level guideline enhancement. The court of appeals found that the government carried its burden of proving the loss attributable to the defendant. At her sentencing, the government introduced a spreadsheet demonstrating the total loss amount attributable to Rodriguez was over $12,000,000.

The court of appeals rejected the defendant’s challenge to other sentencing guidelines enhancements. The court found that the number of victim lenders was more than 10. The court rejected her sophisticated means challenge finding that the facts of the offense met the guidelines definition. Court also rejected her appeal from the district court’s decision to deny her a minor role reduction.

Finally, the court rejected the defendant’s challenge to the restitution order. She argued that more than two years he lapsed between the sentencing and the date of her restitution hearing. The court rejected her argument for a speedy sentencing and speedy appeal. The court found that her due process rights were not violated by the delay because the court sentencing court stated its intent to impose a restitution amount at the original sentencing and the defendants the defendant suffered no prejudice from the lengthy delay.

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