Major Bavaro tourism project developer gets 3 years in prison on fraud
SANTO DOMINGO.- A three judge court last week sentenced tourism project developer Ilonka Castillo and Inversiones ARP to three years in prison, found guilty of breach of confidence against Alejandro Cepero, in the case involving a fraud of millions of dollars in at least 10 villas in Bavaro, a case first published by DT in January 2011.
The lawyer Virgilio Mendez Amaro, who represents another plaintiff in the case, said the most relevant evidence which prompted the 4th National District Court’s ruling was “Mrs. Castillo’s criminal use of money in checks Mr. Alejandro Cepero gave her to pay for the villas,” and used the money to pay her private debt with the Banco del Progreso, instead of applying it to the release of Mr. Cepero’s properties.”
He said the bank eventually foreclosed on Cepero’s villas, which in his view was the key for the court decision, including the prison sentence. “Just as there’s no doubt that Mrs. Castillo’s ambiguous testimony, gaps in her story, failure to provide credible evidence in her defense and Mr. Cepero’s strong position were determining factors in the outcome. He actually cried on the witness stand.”
When asked what’s the next step he expects from Castillo’s defense, Mendez said he’s certain they’ll appeal, “but given the criminal nature, the restrictive provisions of the sentence against Castillo will continue to be in effect.”
As to potential confiscations of convict’s properties and assets, the attorney said Cepero decided to withhold those actions until the proceeding concludes. “I can say that Mrs. Castillo and Inversiones ARP are in a dire financial position, resulting from the mismanagement their officials have been committing.”
“This decision represents both for Mr. Cepero as for us, not only the validity of our claims, but we understand that we’re doing some justice to each and every one of the buyers of Residence Villa Sol II and III who lost their properties amid the swamp of excuses that Mrs. Castillo and Inversiones ARP created,” Mendez said when asked about what the case means for the country’s Judicial security.
He said the case’s importance centers on real estate companies, who’ll now feel more obligated to fulfill their obligation to buyers. “Generally, white collar defendants tend to get minor penalties for their crimes, but that didn’t happen in this case.”
“This decision tells local and foreign investors that our judicial system is ready to respond to claims and complaints by victim-plaintiffs who’re willing to embrace the process in an wavering manner,” Mendez said, adding the damages inflicted on the victims is such, they often underestimate the fact that the system of justice will never abandon them, as long as they file legally-sound claims and comply with due process.