SPRING HILL — A woman who was charged alongside her husband with scheming to defraud says she and he were the victims.
"I regret nothing, because I did nothing maliciously," Anaiz Goodrich, 31, said last week.
She and husband Michael Goodrich, 40, moved with their eight children to Spring Hill from Miami last June, then, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, misleadingly borrowed more than $100,000 from their landlord, a local business owner and one of their employees, using much of it to open and operate a restaurant, the Cuban Grill, in Spring Hill.
The fraud charges against the Goodriches came after an investigation by Hernando authorities that began in February. Michael was arrested July 10 in Polk County, after Anaiz was arrested July 1 in Orange County. Both posted bail and have been released.
Anaiz Goodrich told the Times that she and her husband never promised to immediately pay back Norma Weihs, their landlord and neighbor in River Country Estates, or Paul Jallo, owner of Jallo Oil Inc. Loans made to the Goodriches by Weihs, 59, of Spring Hill, and Jallo, 45, who lives in Tarpon Springs, account for most of the $116,396.91 total counted by detectives.
The Goodriches also scammed $10,000 from Joseph Rodriguez, one of their employees at the restaurant, according to the Sheriff's Office, and went on a wrecking spree when they vacated the property on Spring Hill Drive, stuffing fish down the drains and stealing fire extinguishers. Because of the damage, the Sheriff's Office added counts of felony criminal mischief to the couple's charges.
The claims were considered a civil matter initially. But as the investigation continued, authorities designated the case criminal, based on the Goodriches' alleged misrepresentation of their ability to repay the victims. Weihs and Jallo told authorities they trusted Anaiz's promise that her family was waiting on a large settlement to materialize so they could make good on their debt.
Her husband does, in fact, have an open auto accident claim, said Howard Kanner of the law office of Kanner & Pintaluga. He would not discuss the details of the case with the Times, but said the settlement is "substantial." Any payment resulting from the claim could take a year or more to become final, Kanner said.
Anaiz insisted that she told Weihs, Jallo and Rodriguez about the time frame, and said it is unjust that she and her husband have been charged with a crime.
"I had every intention of repaying them," she said. "I had every intention of repaying them how I said I would repay them."
Jallo was nonplussed.
"You trust people when you feel bad for people," he said. "But everything was lies."