Former Monroeville man gets 9 years in prison for bad land deals
A former Monroeville man will spend nine years in federal prison for bilking investors out of $2.5 million in bogus real estate deals, a Florida judge ruled on Monday.
U.S. District Judge John Steele heard testimony on Thursday and Friday before sentencing Alfredo Sararo III of Naples, Fla. A federal jury in Fort Myers, Fla., in August convicted Sararo of nine charges of fraud and wire fraud.
Prosecutors said Sararo, a former Allegheny County probation officer and tennis instructor, under-reported his income in tax returns, lied to investors and lenders, falsified documents and persuaded others to lie and falsify documents. They sought more than 27 years in prison for Sararo.
The government says Sararo took retired Common Pleas Judge Robert P. Horgos of Sewickley Hills — a former friend — for more than $1 million to invest in fraudulent land deals. In all, Sararo bilked more than $4 million from at least a dozen people, many of whom Horgos persuaded to invest with Sararo, according to prosecution filings. Horgos testified under immunity against Sararo in the two-week trial.
Steele disagreed with the government's assessment of Horgos' role, saying Horgos was not a victim, and he did not include any restitution for Horgos. The $2.5 million he ordered Sararo to repay will go to other investors, including Senior Common Pleas Judge Gerard Bigley.
“The testimony at trial showed a complex relationship between Sararo and Robert Horgos,” Steele wrote. “The evidence clearly supports the jury's verdicts that Sararo was guilty of the fraud and tax counts. The evidence as to whether Robert Horgos was always a victim, always a co-schemer, or some combination, was more ambiguous.”
Sararo's attorney Robert Rosenblatt pointed to a 2008 email from Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway to investigators indicating Horgos was willing to take a plea deal.
“I am sending a memo to (former U.S. Attorney) Mary Beth (Buchanan) encouraging her to reject Horgos' proposal to plead to the tax count without any fraud counts. ... I do not anticipate us giving him a deal that he is going to accept and therefore we should move forward,” Conway's email states.
Horgos issued a statement through attorney Tina Miller denying that he offered to plead guilty.
“At no time did I offer or agree to plead guilty to a crime. I fully cooperated with the government from the very beginning of the investigation. Like many others, I was victimized by Mr. Sararo. Through civil litigation, I have been successful in addressing his actions,” Miller wrote on behalf of Horgos.
Horgos' civil attorney Lou Tarasi said Steele's finding that Horgos didn't deserve restitution was wrong.
“(Sararo) ought to go away for a long time. He cheated everybody,” Tarasi said. “The judge lost $1.2 million because he trusted this individual. He's the biggest victim of them all. He's ruined.”
Rosenblatt said Horgos used his influence to avoid punishment.
“The only con man was Horgos. Alfredo didn't call any of the Pittsburgh investors. What it shows is that if you're a state judge in Pittsburgh and you have connections, you walk away free.”
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- W.V. entrepreneurs offer hope as coal fades as economic engine
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- 7 percent in Allegheny County allowed to carry concealed gun
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Fabregas: To pay or not to pay: Hospital’s bill for procedure or insurer’s rate?
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Film session: Long shots dotted Steelers’ passing game
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar