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They Can Run, but They Can’t Hide

4/4/2007

CONTACT:  Tara Klimek or Nina Banister 
                  (850) 413-2842   

DFS WORKS WITH NYPD TO COLLAR SUSPECTS
IN $2 MILLION MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME
 
TALLAHASSEE – In a case that could have been taken from an NYPD Blues script, the last three suspects in a $2 million, six-member Florida mortgage fraud ring learned the hard way that hiding on a roof, in a closet or in a busy stock exchange office isn’t good enough when determined detectives are on your trail. 
 
Esmeralda Ildefonso, 25, Arturo Ildefonso, 27, and Melissa Miranda, 27, were arrested last week on warrants stemming from an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), and the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).  The arrests resulted from close collaboration with the New York Police Department, who made the arrests.
 
“I commend everyone who worked to bring these suspects to justice,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.  “We will go to any lengths to find those who prey on innocent Floridians—even if we have to go to New York to do it.”
 
DIF’s lead detective Ted Padich and OFR’s lead investigator Steven Brignola was working with the NYPD following up on information that the last three suspects were in New York, and NYPD Detective Ken Kearns confirmed Friday that the arrests had been made.  Esmeralda Ildefonso was arrested at her office at the Mercantile Stock Exchange, and she reportedly advised of Arturo Ildefonso’s location.  He was found hiding in a closet.  He then reportedly disclosed Melissa Miranda’s location, where she was found hiding on a rooftop.  
 
In all, six suspects – including two Florida title agents Pamela Jones Johnson, 38, of Parkland, and Elena Gunter Granderson, 43, Pembroke Pines, along with Paul Daniel Thompson, 28 – have been arrested for their alleged roles in fraudulent real estate transactions on five properties located in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.  They allegedly obtained mortgages on the property by using fraudulent HUD-1’s, appraisals, second mortgages, verifications of employment, and other fraudulent documents.
 
Anyone with information about this case or any other suspected fraud case is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.