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Couple charged with conning landlord, others to open Cuban restaurant in Spring Hill

SPRING HILL — A married couple conned their landlord and two others into giving them more than $100,000 to start a Cuban restaurant and for rent money, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Michael and Anaiz Goodrich were charged with scheming to defraud and felony criminal mischief, authorities said.

Michael Goodrich, 40, was arrested Wednesday in Polk County and booked into jail in Bartow.

He posted $12,250 in bail and was released Thursday.

His wife, 31-year-old Anaiz Goodrich, was arrested July 1 in Orange County.

She posted $12,000 bail and was released that day.

The Goodriches' victims included their landlord, a local businessman who gave them space to run the restaurant and a dishwasher at the restaurant, according to the Sheriff's Office.

In total, the couple stole $116,396.91, detectives said.

The scheme started when the Goodriches moved to Hernando County from Miami and met Norma Weihs, 59, of Spring Hill in June 2012, the Sheriff's Office said.

Weihs was renting property she owned in River Country Estates near her home.

"They came in and gave me a check," Weihs said. "They said, 'Don't cash it.' Then they arrived with their stuff and eight children."

The couple did not pay Weihs a security deposit or any rent money, the Sheriff's Office said.

They told her that they were awaiting the return of funds from a prior rental in Miami.

No settlement was in the works, and the Goodriches actually had been evicted from the Miami rental, according to investigators.

Weihs gave them money to open a restaurant, and the couple launched the Cuban Grill on Spring Hill Drive in August 2012, renting space from Paul Jallo, who owned the shopping plaza.

The Goodriches' dishwasher at the grill, Joseph Rodriguez, also fell for the ploy, giving them money to invest as a partner in a supposed second location, authorities said.

Weihs started pressing the Goodriches to pay up in December, she said, and they left that month. In February, Weihs and Jallo reported the situation to the Sheriff's Office.

According to detectives, Weihs suffered a total loss of $50,020.80, and Jallo lost $56,339.69. Rodriguez gave $10,036.42 to the Goodriches.

"What I want is for them to never, ever do this again, to anyone else," Weihs said. "But I know I'll never get my money back. They don't have the money to pay me — they live off others."

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Alison Barnwell can be reached at (503)754-6114 or abarnwell@tampabay.com.

Couple charged with conning landlord, others to open Cuban restaurant in Spring Hill 07/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 12, 2013 8:24pm]

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