Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Tangled Transactions
Tonight state investigators are looking into real estate transactions involving a former football star from South Florida. At issue -- mortgage fraud and identity theft. In a story you will see on just one station -- investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is - on the case.
WSVN -- Imagine being told your name is on the mortgage for this million-dollar house.
It happened to Sunny Mikula.
Sunny Mikula: "I said what - I said you must be kidding."
A broker called her with the astonishing news.
And it got worse.
Sunny Mikula: "I discovered I have a bank account somewhere that's been paying the mortgage for the Plantation property and my checks have been bouncing."
The house was once the home of Brett Perriman... a local football star who played for UM and the Miami Dolphins.
But now the former wide receiver is in the middle of a criminal investigation.
Robert Crespo: "He is a possible suspect - yes."
The state is also investigating Robert Barnard - a man who Mikula says convinced her to give him personal information in connection with possible property deals.
Deals that never developed.
Mikula says she gave him personal information for a credit check and a limited power of attorney.
Sunny Mikula: "And from there it evolved into him using my identity to purchase this property."
Authorities also want to know who signed Selma Mikula's name on the mortgage documents.
Barnard signed a promissory note for Mikula's down payment on the plantation home- but somebody else signed Mikula’s formal name - Selma Mikula - on the mortgage documents.
Sunny Mikula: "Brett Perriman was the owner of the property and according to documents, I purchased the property from Brett Perriman."
Subpoenas have gone out to nine companies involved in this deal.
Part of what the state is trying to find out - who pretended to be Sunny Mikula.
Robert Crespo: "It'll take a few months - uh there are a lot of records."
Robert Crespo is investigating the case for the Florida Department of Financial Services.
He says the day Perriman learned of the investigation - this document - a quit claim deed was filed by Perriman.
It transfers the plantation property back to him. Again - it is signed by someone pretending to be Sunny Mikula.
Carmel Cafiero: "I'd like to talk with you about Selma Mikula and problems with the property in Plantation."
I would have asked Perriman about that - but he wasn't talking when we caught up with him one morning in Miramar.
Mikula meanwhile has discovered the mortgage on this house in Conyers, Georgia is also in her name.
She owes - $510,000 dollars on it.
Sunny Mikula: "I'm in shock - absolute shock. I had no idea any of this was going on."
Robert Crespo: "We do know that there's another house in Georgia and there's another one in the state of Missouri."
Carmel Cafiero: "And is Brett Perriman's name associated with either of those properties?"
Robert Crespo: "Well, his name has been mentioned in those transactions."
Carole fritz wrote up the plantation deal as the Davie office manager for a Clearwater mortgage company.
She claims to be a victim too - but she is also being investigated by the state… along with Robert Barnard who were not able to reach and Brett Perriman.
Brett Perriman: "I'll talk with you."
Carmel Cafiero: "You will?"
"Yes, I will."
"Thank you very much."
"Turn that camera off please."
"No the camera has to stay on I'm afraid--"
The door slams.
That was the last I saw of Brett Perriman.
The pressure on Sunny Mikula meanwhile to clear her name is taking a toll.
At work, she's getting calls from bill collectors.
Sunny Mikula: "I'm guilty until I've proven myself innocent."
It isn't clear just who owns the Plantation Acres home at the moment. But the state is clear - it is investigating possible mortgage fraud and identity theft. And depending on the results - state or federal charges - are possible.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or In Broward at 954- 921-CLUE