Nevin Shapiro, the convicted University of Miami booster who blindsided the school’s athletic program with claims of gift-giving to players, is now admitting to committing perjury when he testified in a criminal trial against a local businessman who is serving 18 years in prison.
Shapiro has sent a letter to a Miami federal judge — along with an ethics complaint to the Florida Bar — claiming he lied under oath in December 2008 when he testified against Juan Rene Caro, who was charged with running a $132 million check-cashing scheme.
Shapiro told U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard that Caro, owner of the La Bamba chain of check-cashing stores, did not receive a fair trial because Shapiro committed perjury on the witness stand and his high-profile lawyers, Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, knowingly allowed him to lie.
In the accompanying Florida Bar complaint filed this month, Shapiro said he lied when he was asked about his investment company. He testified that he operated a grocery brokerage business, but the operation actually was a front for the Ponzi scheme that he later was convicted of running.
Shapiro, who had borrowed $400,000 from Caro to pay off gambling debts on sports games, was given immunity for his testimony against the La Bamba owner, who was convicted in 2009. Shapiro was charged in 2010 with directing the Ponzi scheme, a $930 million investment swindle unrelated to Caro’s case.
Now serving a 20-year prison sentence for securities fraud, Shapiro claims his criminal defense lawyers, Lewis and Tein, knew about the federal investigation into his Ponzi scheme before he took the witness stand in the La Bamba trial but left him vulnerable to questions about his fraudulent business.
So Shapiro — whose veracity has been attacked throughout the National College Athletic Association's investigation into UM's sports program — says he had no choice but to lie.
“I believe a terrible injustice has occurred at the hands of my former attorneys, and it is my opinion that Mr. Caro was not given a fair trial as a result of the misconduct of my former attorneys,” Shapiro wrote in the May 17 letter to the federal judge, attaching his Florida Bar complaint. He also sent the letter and complaint to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Caro’s defense lawyer, Arturo Hernandez.
Lewis, a former U.S. attorney in Miami, Tein, an ex-prosecutor in his office, and their defense attorney, Paul Calli, did not return email and phone messages. The Miami Herald sent Shapiro’s letter and Florida Bar complaint to them last week.
Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker said, as policy, its staff will open an inquiry into Shapiro's complaint.
Hernandez’s client, Caro, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud conspiracy and filing false currency transaction reports.
Ever since, Hernandez has sought to gain a new trial for his client, saying federal prosecutors in Miami knew about the FBI’s investigation into Shapiro’s investment scam at the time he testified in Caro’s trial, but they did not disclose that information to him so he could ask Shapiro about it.
Prosecutors in Miami have asserted they did not know about the separate federal investigation, conducted in New Jersey, into Shapiro’s investment scam. Lenard, as a result, denied Hernandez’s bid for a new trial, noting the evidence was still sufficient to convict Caro without Shapiro’s testimony.