Plain Dealer Front Page Story about Tony Viola’s $46 million scam called Fake News, Ignites Controversy
The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s June 28, 2017 article claims Tony Viola “masterminded” a $46 million fraud scheme, “The Criminals who brought you Northeast Ohio’s Housing Crisis” by Eric Heisig. The article also features a photo of Tony and quotes from federal prosecutor Mark Bennett. But the paper’s reporting contains obvious factual errors and fails to explain how Tony used evidence prosecutors suppressed before the first trial to prove his innocence at a second trial on the same charges, prosecuted by the same joint federal-state task force.
“Plain Dealer reporters enthusiastically serves as the public relations office for federal and state prosecutors,” said Tony Viola. “Michelle Jarboe called my cellular phone asking for comment about a ‘raid’ at my office an hour before it started. Pete Kraus asked me to comment on my indictment before it was filed and Mark Gillespie asked if I’d care to comment on a ruling by Judge Donald Nugent before it was publicly available. Prosecutors and Plain Dealer team up to create a false version of events — banks were tricked into making ‘no money down’ loans, I was partners with Uri Gofman or bought and sold houses with him, I owned and controlled mortgage businesses — all of which are untrue but all of which were used to create a false narrative, taint the jury pool and signal the government’s case to cooperating witnesses.”
Tony’s Letter to the Editor of the Plain Dealer is provided below in its entirety:
The Plain Dealer often blames me for “the mortgage crisis in Cleveland” but I debunked that falsehood at a second trial after a whistleblower inside the Prosecutor’s office gave me FBI interviews with bank employees and lender documents which the government suppressed before the first trial. Jurors at the second trial, involving the same charges as the first, agreed that banks knowingly waived income and down payment requirements and were fully aware of all loan terms, confirming there was no fraud and that I’m innocent.
Your reporting contains multiple factual errors. I am not housed “at a medium-security federal prison” for violent offenders but at a prison camp. My real estate brokerage didn’t “keep the money” from any transactions; we earned lawful real estate commissions from selling properties on the Multiple Listing Service. We never engaged in any “fake sales” nor were we ever involved with Uri Gofman’s acquisition, renovation or refinancing of his properties with his partners.
I proved my innocence at trial using evidence prosecutors claimed did not exist but I remain in jail. When does the Plain Dealer plan on covering that story?