Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Where's the Party? Follow Up
Major trouble for a South Florida party planner tonight. Already facing possible prison time new charges could cost her big time. It was all first exposed in a Seven News investigation. Carmel Cafiero is still on the case.
WSVN -- It was quite a sight. A middle-aged couple. Him with his shirt pulled over his head, her hiding under a jacket, both navigating the parking lot at the Metro Justice building with a Seven News crew in pursuit.
Kelli Garlock: "What did you do with the money?"
But Ana Nunez wasn't answering. She once ran Dream Stages, a party planning company. She took in lots of money, but customers claim she kept it for herself instead of paying for their events, from birthday parties to weddings.
Melba Gonzalez: "I had to pay $13,000 over the phone; money that I had already paid."
Melba Gonzalez says she paid Nunez for the celebration of her 25th wedding anniversary, which included a renewal of vows in a church and a big party to follow. It almost didn't happen because the reception hall had not been paid.
Melba Gonzalez: "It was very painful."
In fact, all of these people say they had similar experiences after hiring and paying Ana Nunez.
Andres Hernandez: "Altogether we paid her $15,000."
Carmel Cafiero: "And what did you get for it?"
Andres Hernandez: "Nothing."
Nunez was arrested back in November on 10 theft and fraud charges. She is currently free on bond.
Carmel Cafiero: "And now the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has added three new felony charges, but these new charges do not relate to the party planning business; they are all about mortgage fraud."
The new case involves this house in Southwest Miami-Dade, which authorities say Nunez bought for her parents. When it went into foreclosure, prosecutors say Nunez filed three phony court documents. The state says one document made it appear the foreclosure was no longer pending, when it was, and the state says the other two documents indicated two mortgages on the house had been paid off, when they had not.
Prosecutor Sophiea Bailey: "So that was her purpose, flip the house quickly in a sale, take out that money, so that was the reason for submitting all three of those documents."
Prosecutor Sophiea Bailey says the house was in the process of being sold until the bogus documents were discovered.
Sophiea Bailey: "Normally, it's hard to sell a house when it's in foreclosure, or that money's not going to go to you. It's going to go to whatever bank or lending institution that owns the mortgages on those properties."
Nunez is now charged with grand theft and two counts of uttering a forged document, and those new charges brought Nunez to the courthouse.
While her case was discussed in one courtroom, the couple tried to avoid our camera by ducking into another. Then, with the help of a bailiff, they slipped down a back hallway, and out the front door. Clearly they didn't want to be seen nor would Ana Nunez answer questions. She did have a few choice words to say though. She also said she was an innocent victim.
They continued to hide their faces even as they paid for parking, but, with Ana Nunez facing up to 105 years in prison, it won't be so easy to hide from the justice system.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE: