At the end of a six-month or one-year investment period, Rodriguez induced investors to renew their agreements without the return of any of their initial investment principal, according to court records. As he juggled their accounts, he sent annuity payments to lull investors into a false sense of security and to conceal the false and fraudulent nature of the scheme, according to records.
In late October 2010, Rodriguez vanished from his office. Several investors began calling and showing up at the office to complain that they had not received their monthly payments.
The employee who had to face their wrath: Rodriguezs secretary, Valle, who had worked for him for 20 years.
She quickly realized that dozens of her bosses customers including herself had been duped.
On Oct. 27, 2010, Rodriguez sent Valle a text message, saying: I am so sorry. I ruined your finances and betrayed your trust and love as a sister to me. I let you down big time and I feel really bad. Im so sorry.
Valle had lost about $90,000 money that she and her late husband, Fernando, had invested with Rodriguez from a line of credit on their West Miami home.
I told him in a text message, You need to be a man, you need to show your face, Valle told The Miami Herald in an interview.
Valle, filled with fear and shock, hired a Miami criminal defense attorney, Michael A. Haber, to guide her through the fallout. Soon after, both of them paid a visit to the FBI to explain that Rodriguez had victimized her and dozens of others. They also wanted to make it clear to agents that she was clueless about his scam.
She was not only not a part of it, Haber said, but she was as surprised as anyone else.
Valle helped the FBI with the investigation by compiling a list of Rodriguezs victims and their financial records. Other victims also spoke with the FBI about their investment losses.
Rodriguez, who was eventually indicted on a slew of wire fraud charges in March, struck a plea agreement three months later to avoid going to prison for up to 20 years. U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas will have final say on his sentence.
QUIET AT FUNERAL
Valle, who plans to speak at Rodriguezs sentencing hearing on Friday, wrote a letter that was filed in court by the prosecutor.
When my husband died, I remember you sitting with your wife by yourself quietly at the funeral, wrote Valle, a mother of two sons.
At that time, I did not know that your greed was so great as to steal from me and my children, whose father had just passed away, and I can only wonder if I will ever get my money back.
According to the U.S. attorneys office, Valle, the Gough family and other victims of Rodriguezs investment scheme will likely recover little, if anything, because he blew all their money.
The bottom line is this: Rodriguezs victims will never be paid back more than pennies on the dollar that they lost, and even that will come years down the line from now, Luck wrote in the sentencing memo. The only way to see that Rodriguez gets what he deserves is through punishment.