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Florida Keys News
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Man requests new BP trial

A man convicted of defrauding a now-shuttered BP oil claims center of $3 million has taken to writing his own court motions in lieu of his attorney in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to avoid the 700 years in prison he faces.

On April 16, a federal jury convicted Jean Mari Lindor, 31, of Homestead, on all 40 counts he was charged with, including 26 counts of mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, three counts of access device fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. On April 30, he filed motions asking to be acquitted, or granted a new trial.

Lindor's sentencing has not yet been scheduled before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, as he has filed multiple handwritten motions from his jail cell -- at the Federal Detention Center in Miami -- objecting to the probation office's presentence investigation.

That report is not public, but Lindor claims in various motions he wrote himself -- absent his federal public defender -- that the government "brought in a ton of material and created evidence to the courtroom during trial to confuse the jury."

"This resulted in a circus and the defendant was found guilty," Lindor wrote. "The defendant precipitate (sic) that the prosecution is attempting to pull the same stunt at the sentencing courtroom, but this time, in a much greater magnitude."

He added that the presentence report used misleading language and was intended to "railroad" him by "twisting the truth," but didn't specify in his motion how or why, or what evidence he has to the contrary.

Lindor did include several lengthy email exchanges with his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Kenneth Swartz, in which he blames a litany of people for the fraud.

None of Swartz's responses, if any, were included in Lindor's motion.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald fired back Monday that Lindor's objections are vague and inadmissible, largely because he is "falsely suggesting he is pro se in this matter," according to court records. Pro se is legal jargon for representing yourself in court without an attorney.

"Defendant's personal filing ... is comprised largely of denials of the criminal conduct of which he stands convicted, a recitation of evidence at odds with the testimony and documents admitted by the court," Watts-Fitzgerald wrote in his motion to have the judge toss Lindor's claims.

The prosecutor added that Lindor's writings contain the "pervasive assertion that only his view of the matter is credible" as well as "generic case citations with virtually no relevance to the issues asserted."

Lindor is also arguing in court records that he should be acquitted because the evidence produced at trial failed to prove he committed access device fraud, which refers to obtaining a person's Social Security number, bank information, date of birth or other identifying information that can be used for fraud.

He submitted as many as 700 suspicious claims on behalf of low-income workers in the Upper Keys and elsewhere in South Florida who each paid him $300, according to court records.

Lindor allegedly used ground mail and the Internet to submit required forms and other documents, which included false employment and tax records, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege Lindor also filed a claim stating his hours at the Coalition of Florida Farm Workers Organizations were cut because of the spill.

The false claims were filed through the now-shuttered Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which was formed by BP and the federal government after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The scheme was revealed by undercover FBI agents who infiltrated his Homestead company, Noula Inc., located at 233 SW Fourth St. in Homestead, according to court records.

Many of the workers who allegedly filed with Lindor worked in Key Largo and Islamorada, records state.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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