Federal prosecutors say Domenico Rabuffo, the 77-year-old Miami developer of a controversial North Carolina development, poses a danger to the community and should remain behind bars until trial on multiple charges of bank fraud.
Rabuffo and six other Florida residents were arrested last week for allegedly scamming banks out of almost $50 million in mortgage money. Each faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $1 million fine.
Rabuffo, his ex-wife, Mae of Fort Lauderdale, Land O’Lakes engineer Raymond E. Olivier, Tampa mortgage and investment broker Curtis Allen Davis and others are accused of using dozens of straw buyers and corporations to purchase lots near Cashiers, N.C. Most of the buyers are Florida residents, including many from the Tampa Bay area.
Also charged as co-conspirators are Diane M. Hayduk, 64, of Miami; Victor Miguel Vidal, 48, of Miami; and Lazaro Jesus Perez, 43, of Miami Lakes.
All but Rabuffo have been released on $100,000 bond.
Because of his age, Rabuffo faces a de facto life sentence if convicted. Prosecutors say Rabuffo is likely to flee, noting he frequently travels to Mexico, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic and has access to millions of dollars which he keeps in the names of others.
Prosecutors contend that Rabuffo has no ties to South Florida except for a daughter who lives in Fort Lauderdale.
In an affidavit filed in federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwayne E. Williams says Rabuffo has a long history of perpetrating fraudulent schemes disguised as businesses and now claims to be in the metal trading business with two Florida companies: Ore Trading LLC and Mar Construction Communications Inc.
“There is clear and convincing evidence that no conditions will reasonably assure the safety of the community if Domenico Rabuffo is released on bond,’’ prosecutors contend.
On Tuesday, Rabuffo will try to persuade a federal magistrate in Miami to let him remain free on bail.
The federal indictment accuses Olivier and Davis of soliciting buyers with a promise to pay them $12,500 a year for the use of their names and credit for bank loans. Each buyer would get an additional $12,500 a year if they pursued a construction mortgage.
Prosecutors say Rabuffo has hidden assets and once showed a witness a bank statement on an account containing $9 million. The account, like much of the land he purchased in North Carolina, was in his ex-wife’s name.
Rabuffo has also boasted that his ore trading business is very lucrative and once told Olivier not to worry about a lawsuit because he had “billions coming in’’ from a business in Mexico. Olivier also told federal agents that Rabuffo claimed he was training Mexican cartels for the revolution, prosecutors noted.
According to a 2008 article in the St. Petersburg Times, Rabuffo moved to South Florida in the 1990s after a prison stint for his involvement in a mortgage scheme and was in the witness protection program. In his new life in Miami, he helped build the Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove.