Prosecutors can use computer information they uncovered during a Homestead office raid last year in their case against a man accused of defrauding a now-shuttered BP oil claims center of $3 million, a judge has ruled.
A public defender for Jean Mari Lindor, 31, tried to get a judge to toss the evidence because an FBI search warrant falsely stated that Lindor emailed at least one oil claim when in fact he mailed it via the U.S. Postal Service.
Lindor also claimed the search warrant failed to establish probable cause that computers at his Homestead business office were used to file false BP claims and that there was no probable cause to believe that any of those computers were used by Lindor to commit identity theft, records state.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres shot down both claims, according to a 19-page ruling issued Tuesday. Torres ruled the search warrant was authorized by agents looking for violations of several laws, which the warrant covered.
Lindor is charged with five counts each of mail and wire fraud -- each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He is also charged with three counts of access-device fraud, which carry a maximum 10 years.
Lindor 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 to process their claims, 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 documents, 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 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 called 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.
U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore is presiding over the case, which appears headed to trial at a yet to be scheduled date.