A Florida Keys trailer park owner who criminal investigators say engaged in a scheme with his manager to rip off residents and defraud the state out of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue was convicted on multiple theft- and fraud-related charges last week.
A Monroe County Circuit Court judge sentenced Yerachmiel “Ralph” Mutchnik, 74, to five years probation, during which he is prohibited him from setting foot on his Galway Bay Mobile Home Park in Marathon.
Mutchnik, who lives in Miami, pleaded no contest on April 25 to five counts of grand theft, two counts of filing unlawful documents related to title paperwork for trailers in the park, two counts of uttering a forged instrument for signing false documents and three counts of organizing a scheme to defraud, said Monroe County State Attorney’s Office spokesman Larry Kahn.
“Among other things, Mutchnik was charged with forging signatures of mobile home owners in the park on bills of sale and the titles of the trailers when ownership was transferred,” Kahn said in a statement Thursday. “He was charged with under reporting the sales price of trailers to avoid paying higher state taxes on the sales.”
Acting Circuit Court Judge Ruth Becker also ordered Mutchnik to pay $16,170 to the Monroe County Tax Collector’s Office.
State Attorney’s Office investigators say Mutchnik and his park manager, Elaine Mary Law-Rose, were defrauding Galway Bay residents and the state since 2015.
In July of that year, a new Galway Bay resident bought a trailer in the park for $29,000. The resident wrote a check to the former owner for $28,000 and a $1,000 check to Law-Rose, who typically made commissions of between $1,000 and $2,000, according to SAO Investigator Abraham Vallejo’s report.
Law-Rose told the resident to write an additional check for $1,900 to cover sales tax and transfer fees. According to Vellejo, she told the man to leave the payee line of the check blank.
The man bought a second trailer for $57,800. He paid the previous owner $55,800 for the trailer and Law-Rose $2,000. He also wrote another check for $3,460 for taxes and transfer fees. Again, she told him to not make the check out to anyone, according to Vellejo’s report.
For the first trailer, the new owner later learned that the $29,000 transaction was recorded with the state as $500. Only $75 was paid to the state in taxes and $73 to the title company. The balance of the $1,900 the new resident paid Law-Rose was deposited into Mutchnik’s bank account, according to investigators.
The sales transaction for the second trailer the man bought was recorded as $1,000, not $57,800. And, the state and title company only received $153.25. The rest of the $3,460 again went into Mutchnik’s bank account, Vellejo wrote in his report.
Investigators say Law-Rose and Mutchnik pulled similar scams on four other residents.
Law-Rose was arrested in October on fraud charges. Her case is still pending, Kahn said.
According to Vellejo’s report, Mutchnik used a Hallandale Beach title agency. Managers there told investigators Mutchnik brought all the required paperwork with the supposed signatures of the buyers. But the people who bought the trailers said they never signed the documents, according to Vellejo.
Mutchnik was also arrested in January 2018 on criminal mischief, grand theft and filing false documents charges. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies said he purposely damaged a Galway Bay resident’s trailer to render it against code following Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Cops also said he damaged another resident’s shed in order to make it not up to city of Marathon code.
Prosecutors declined to prosecute those matters because they determined them to be civil in nature, Kahn said.