An employee working in the Broward County Records and Treasury Division was arrested on the job Thursday by Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Roberto Martinez, 46, faces 102 felony charges, which include grand theft, money laundering, forgery and official misconduct, according to his arrest warrant.
When Martinez was approached by police at his job, “he was not evading capture,” said Keyla Concepcion, senior public information officer for BSO. “We took him into custody today after obtaining the arrest warrant.”
According to the warrant, he distributed more than $1.6 million of surplus tax deed funds meant to be returned to homeowners. When a property owner fails to pay their taxes, the county can auction off the property in a tax-deed sale. Any excess money that comes from that sale — after the creditors are paid off —is supposed to be returned to the previous property owner.
Instead, Martinez, working with five others, BSO says, forged county documents and distributed the money to the five and himself. The five co-conspirators — Denis Eugene, Marc Eugene, Dim Villarson, Gawens St Victor, and Patricia Eugene — would face separate charges. They have not been arrested.
Martinez also deposited $89,100 into his own bank accounts and bought a $6,000 Kia Sorrento in cash with the fraudulently obtained money, according to BSO. His bond is set at $915, 000.
“It is obvious that (Martinez) provided (his co-conspirators) information," Broward sheriff’s detective John Calabro told Channel 10. "It is obvious that he participated in the fraud. They filed powers of attorney in each case and Mr. Martinez was in charge of reviewing the paperwork. He authorized the issuance of the checks. The investigation uncovered about $1.6 million in losses to numerous former owners of homes in Broward County."