State: Child abuser posed as Miami defense attorney, stole $70,000
04/15/2014 6:01 PM
04/15/2014 8:40 PM
Imer Armando Perez is no attorney. He’s a convicted child abuser on probation until 2026.
But investigators say that didn’t stop Perez from passing himself off as a lawyer, crafting stationery touting his fake firm, boasting of his law partners — and conning a convict’s family out of $70,000.
Now, he’s also a fugitive. The Miami man, 44, vanished as state agents looked to arrest him this week on charges of grand theft and practicing law without a license.
Perez is on probation for aggravated child abuse after serving two years behind bars, where he did legal research and apparently honed his skills as a “jailhouse lawyer.”
According to his probation records, Perez claimed he worked in a Miami bar.
But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says Perez actually was selling himself as a member of another kind of bar — the Florida Bar. Agents say he made a bold promise that even the most optimistic of attorneys wouldn’t dare: that he would free a long-serving prison inmate in less than 90 days.
Relatives of Scotty Posada, serving a 27-year sentence for a 1999 kidnapping, hired Perez after meeting him through an uncle.
He had represented the uncle’s father on a traffic ticket last fall, according to an arrest warrant by FDLE agent Raul E. Perez, who is not related to the suspect, and Miami-Dade prosecutor Ansley Peacock.
In January, Imer Perez met with Posada’s family at a restaurant in the Palm Springs North neighborhood of Northwest Miami-Dade. A few days later, he told the family that “he had spoken to” prosecutors and “they had agreed to have his brother’s case vacated.”
In all, Posada’s brother, Jonathan Gomez, and mother, Lourdes Muro, paid him $70,000. Muro signed a retainer contract that featured the logo of “The Law Offices of Armando A. Perez, 1380 NE 16th St.” — actually a vacant office down the street from Miami’s courthouse.
With his probation officer, he had listed the same address as his place of employment, the non-existent “Willie’s Bar Grill.”
He also claimed that his law partners were real-life attorneys Robert Lamons and Francisco Marty — who had represented him in court back in 2007 on a sexual battery on a minor charge that was later reduced as part of a plea deal.
Perez promised that Posada would be released in 90 days, according to the warrant. Of course, prosecutors say, there was no agreement to throw out the conviction and the defense lawyers had no idea that their former client was passing himself off as their partner.
Gomez soon began to believe that Perez was a fraud, according to FDLE. Online, Gomez found a bonafide Miami lawyer named “Armando A. Perez” — but the man “appeared to be much older.”
He confronted Imer Perez, who insisted “that computers are not real.” Gomez later sought out Lamons to explain what had unfolded.
Shocked that his name were being used for the scam, Lamons called his former client for an explanation, according to FDLE. Perez then insisted he was working undercover as part of a FBI investigation into corruption into the State Attorney’s Office.
Lamons called FBI agent Jose Orench, who said there was no such probe, though he did say he had met with Perez, who could not provide any evidence about wrongdoing by state prosecutors. Perez’s claims “seemed bizarre,” Orench told state investigators, according to the warrant.
FDLE agents soon uncovered that Perez had offered his legal services to another man facing criminal charges, even offering a copy of the retainer agreement. Sensing Perez was a fraud, the man refused to sign the paperwork.
“We believe there may be other victims, and we’re asking that they come forward in contacting us,” said Ed Griffith, a Miami-Dade State Attorney’s spokesman.
Anyone with information on the case can contact FDLE Special Agent Raul Perez at 786-336-1167.
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