Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man gets 36 months for selling homes he didn't own

Gaetano Antonelli, 63, faced 20 years in prison.

Gaetano Antonelli, 63, faced 20 years in prison.

BROOKSVILLE — Gaetano Antonelli promised to make dreams come true by selling foreclosed homes to buyers with bad credit.

The problem, prosecutors say: Antonelli didn't own the homes, and in some cases the buyers didn't realize that until after they had moved in and made renovations.

On Thursday, the 63-year-old pleaded no contest to fraud and selling real estate without a license. He was sentenced to 36 months in prison, with credit for time served since November.

As part of a plea agreement, Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. ordered Antonelli to pay five victims a total of $40,667 in restitution. Payments owed to a sixth victim who recently died would have brought the total to nearly $50,000, Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson said.

If convicted at trial on both counts, Antonelli faced up to 20 years in prison.

Simpson said it's unclear if Antonelli has the money to pay restitution. During plea negotiations, however, Simpson offered to seek a more lenient sentence if Antonelli came up with money to repay the victims.

When he didn't, Simpson pushed for the prison term.

"This wasn't somebody who just found a bag of money that fell of a Wells Fargo truck and made a mistake," he said. "This is somebody who systematically went out and started doing this to folks knowing he had no right to do so."

Investigators say Antonelli found homeowners facing foreclosure, telling them he could relieve them of their mortgages by suing their mortgage company. He told them they could walk away and maybe even get money back if they signed their deeds over to him by a power of attorney agreement. Then he listed the houses for sale on Craigslist without the knowledge of the homeowners.

But Antonelli's scheme was based on a false premise: Once the foreclosure process begins, as it had in these cases, the owner has no legal right to sign over the deed. Antonelli later told Hernando Sheriff's detectives that he had the right to sue banks and mortgage companies because mortgages are not legally binding contracts.

Antonelli's lawyer, Charles Holloman, said after the hearing that his client's mental capacity has apparently deteriorated and that he was misled by people who convinced him what he was doing was legal.

"Quite frankly, he did not have the sophistication in the face of this onslaught not to get conned," Holloman said. "I think one of the reasons he was such a good salesman is he originally believed he could discharge these mortgages."

Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Man gets 36 months for selling homes he didn't own 05/09/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 9, 2013 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Bruno Mars' charisma glitters like gold at Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Nothing in this world should be as easy as Bruno Mars makes it look. Not singing, not dancing, and certainly not playfully seducing more than 17,500 starry-eyed Tampa fans with one of pop music’s best bands at your back.

    Bruno Mars performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Oct. 19, 2017.
  2. Mikhail Sergachev scores twice as Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev said he blacked out for a few seconds after his first NHL goal Thursday night, a rocket slap shot from the point.

    Mikhail Sergachev, front, looks like he’s very in the moment with teammate Dan Girardi after scoring his first NHL goal, though he says he blacked out for a bit. He scores again in the second.
  3. Dodgers rout Cubs 11-1 to win pennant, head to World Series for first time since '88

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

    The Dodgers celebrate their Game 5 victory Thursday night over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, putting Los Angeles in the World Series for the first time since 1988.
  4. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police were investigating what they were calling a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night, near the location of two fatal shootings last week.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  5. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7

    College

    Duke has been tabbed basketball's preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.