Naples woman gets 5 years' probation in $4.5M mortgage fraud case

— A 51-year-old Naples woman charged in a $4.35 million mortgage fraud case has been sentenced to five years of supervised release after snitching on her accountant, who admitted he’d filed bogus tax returns for her and others.

U.S. District Court Judge John Steele in Fort Myers also sentenced Anna A. Roque, also known as Pagani, to time served in jail, a few hours in October, and fined her $10,000 on Monday.

She’d faced 30 years and a $1 million fine.

Roque was charged in October 2009, waived indictment and immediately pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements to a bank, agreeing to cooperate and admitting she’d overinflated earnings by about $600,000 for 2004 to 2006 compared with her tax returns.

She’d obtained two Wachovia Bank loans for $4.35 million, including a $595,000 loan to M.A.R. Enterprises for property on Ortiz Avenue in Fort Myers. She got $3.76 million for her now-defunct Fort Myers restaurant, La Mexicana of Palm Beach Boulevard LLC, which used $1.45 million to build a nearby shopping center.

In September 2009, she returned $1.45 million to Wachovia, settling a lawsuit against her and her businesses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Michelland, who sought a downward departure from sentencing guidelines, wrote that Roque assisted the FBI, naming the accountant who inflated her earnings on tax returns provided to the bank.

“Anna Roque’s cooperation has been timely, reliable and valuable in the investigation of other persons,” Michelland wrote. “... The accountant ... admitted his role not only with respect to Anna Roque, but also to the preparation of numerous false tax returns for other individuals.”

The unnamed accountant’s lawyer said he’d plead guilty to aiding and abetting false statements to a financial institution. The motion said the FBI is investigating the accountant’s clients and Roque helped. Details were provided only to the judge.

Roque’s attorneys, Scott Srebnick of Miami and Steve Grogoza of Naples, said justice was served, while Srebnick added: “Anna never intended to harm the bank, did not gain financially from her conduct, actually repaid the bank the entire principal on both loans, and felt sincere remorse for her conduct.”

In September 2009, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Lee Sheriff’s investigators raided La Mexicana, seizing European and Mexican drugs, weapons, and more than $1 million cash, as well as lottery tickets and $10,000 from Roque’s Sea Grass Lane home.

Rosendo Benito Rangel

Lee County Sheriff's Office

Rosendo Benito Rangel

Roque and Rosendo Benito Rangel, her husband and restaurant co-owner, faced 27 counts of dispensing pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription, a second-degree felony, but Roque of Costa Rica, who is here legally, had her court case expunged, removed from records.

In March 2008, Benito, a Mexican here illegally after being deported, pleaded to failing to maintain or deliver prescription papers and two counts of dispensing pharmaceutical drugs without prescriptions, third-degree felonies carrying five-year maximum terms. Benito, also represented by Grogoza, was sentenced to time served in Lee County jail, 166 days.

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