Spitzer Announces Conviction Of Man For Theft In Time Share Scheme

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office had secured the conviction of Odalis R. Rosado, a deacon at St. Elizabeth's Church in Washington Heights, who defrauded investors of more than $3 million, including approximately $1 million from his own parishioners and other area churchgoers in a scheme involving the sale of worthless time shares in the Dominican Republic. The jury in Manhattan Supreme Court returned guilty verdicts on all 23 counts of the indictment. Rosado will be sentenced on July 28.

Rosado, 57, of 100 Cabrini Boulevard, in Manhattan, was found guilty of grand larceny, intentional real estate securities fraud and violating trust fund provisions of the securities law. According to court testimony, Odalis sold the time shares out of a Washington Heights office for units at Playa Bonita in Nagua, the Dominican Republic. He told investors that Playa Bonita would be a luxurious resort and even showed them drawings and a video of the resort that included a swimming pool, swaying palm trees, horseback riding and other amenities that never materialized. At the time of the trial, Playa Bonita was nothing but an abandoned site. Despite this fact, Rosado's attorneys argued to the jury that the victims had made a legitimate investment. Odalis was indicted in December, along with Wascar De Pena, a Dominican national, who remains a fugitive.

Among the misrepresentations made to investors by Odalis were that the investment was 100 percent guaranteed and that the Catholic Church and the Pope had backed the project. The New York victims were hardworking residents of Upper Manhattan, many of whom lost their life savings.

"This conviction sends the message that my office will continue to work diligently to protect the rights and dreams of all New Yorkers,' Spitzer said.

Melba Recio, one of the victims, gave Rosado $27,000 in 1992, based on his representation that "the Pope and people from the church" would secure her investment. She also believed Rosado's claim that the project would be completed in two or three months. Another victim, Carmen Medrano made her investment in 1994. Upon doing so Rosado told her she could go there because it was ready for occupancy. She grew concerned after hearing rumors that there was nothing at Playa Bonita and confronted Rosado at his church. He refused to meet with her to discuss her $3,000 investment and slipped out of the back of the church to avoid talking to her.

When a group of investors finally met with Rosado to try to get their money back, he told them that even if he did have the money he wouldn't return it to them.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Rhonda Greenstein and Viola Abbitt of Spitzer's Criminal Prosecutions Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Janet Cohn.