08/26/2013 – When the five defendants currently on trial in the VO Group timeshare fraud case were originally arrested in April, 2012 they were all released on $100,000 unsecured bond, with conditions. Those conditions remained when they were re-charged in a superseding indictment in January 2012.
Today four of the five are no longer free. And three of those four have been prohibited from communicating with each other in any way, except through counsel. (*See correction at the bottom of this post.)
Husband and wife Adam and Ashley Lacerda, co-owners of both the VO Group (aka Vacation Ownership Group) and that company’s successor company VO Financial Corp., have joined Ian Resnick and Joseph DiVenti in custody for the duration of the trial, having had their bail revoked for violations of conditions placed on them in their bond agreements.
According to Court documents the Lacerdas were the most recent of the group to have their bail revoked, and there was a certain amount of drama involved in both cases.
Ashley Lacerda was remanded into custody on August 12, 2013 after the Prosecution offered evidence that she violated the Court’s order prohibiting her from contacting, directly or indirectly any person who is or may be a victim or witness in the case. Also offered in the plea to revoke her bail was evidence that she “conspired with others to, and did, corruptly persuade another person to accept a refund, and engage in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent testimony of any person” in the trial. In common terms, she was accused of “witness tampering”. The official order to detain her was signed on August 15.
However, she pleaded via her attorney to be released for medical reasons, specifically to treat her addiction to the prescription drug Suboxone prior to possibly testifying in her own part of the trial. (Note: All the defendants are being tried at the same time, but each has his/her own attorney.) Presiding Judge Noel L. Hillman reluctantly agreed but set conditions on her release, among which were: She was to wear a GPS ankle bracelet; post a $500,000 bond secured by real property; post an additional unsecured bond of $100,000 under a promisory note from her mother; her mother must accompany her at all times. The deal was set to be signed into effect on Aug. 15.
But fate intervened when co-defendant Ian Resnick attempted to pass a note to Ashley while in transport on August 14. The note was intercepted by Federal Marshalls and ended up in the Judge’s hands. The next morning, prior to the resumation of Adam Lacerda’s testimony but with the defendants in court, Judge Hillman passed copies of the note to all the attorneys and a discussion ensued during which the Government immediately requested that Adam Lacerda’s bail be revoked on grounds of his being a flight risk. The note appears to begin with, “If U have GPS and can’t go – he must – 2-3 months and case dismissed, then go with.” It continues:
Don’t risk another day in jail – Go to Bermuda – small private plane – from there Cuba or Venezuela – ask for asylum – cause mistrial – case falls apart without him here – saves us all – KrypTall.com – no phones – cash only – get (something which is crossed out) – Throw away phone – destroy and flush this.
The Judge put the issues on hold temporarily, brought Adam back to the stand and then said, “Yes, we will need a deputy over there.”
Adam’s attorney, Mr. Cedrone, objected, saying, “He is not detained yet.”
To which the Judge replied, “He is detained now.”
The trial then resumed with testimony from Adam Lacerda. At the end of the day, after the jury was dismissed, the discussion was continued with more reasons provided for revoking Adam’s bail, the end result being that bail for both Ashley and Adam was revoked and both are to be detained until the trial is over. In canceling Ashley’s release, the Court cited:
…the violations of bail by in which [Ashley] routinely, consistently ignored the authority of the Court, violated this Court’s orders, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, compelling evidence of witness tampering, her relationship with her husband, her own travel to Mexico, the money in her home, her close association with Resnick, and compelling evidence of her involvement in the continuing operations of VO Financial in order to further these crimes. The Court added substantial risk of flight in addition to the previous findings that there is clear and convincing evidence that a condition of release set by the Court that she committed another federal, state or local crime.
As for Ian Resnick, described as a close and loyal associate of the Lacerdas, his bail was revoked on June 26, 2013 (and he was remanded into custody) for continued harassment of his girlfriend (K.C.) after being ordered to have no contact with her. He was arrested twice following the VO Group indictment for assault on his girlfriend and ordered to avoid all contact with her.
Arrested again on June 24, 2013 for harassment of K.C., US Pretrial Services filed a Petition for Action on Conditions of Pretrial Release. The Petition alleged that Resnick violated the conditions of his bond that states he “shall avoid all contact, directly or indirectly, with any person who is or may be a victim or witness in the investigation or prosecution, including K.C.” by calling her repeatedly, showing up at her residence several times unannounced, and hacking into her Facebook and E-Mail accounts.
Joseph DiVenti was the first of the four to lose his freedom. He had a bond hearing on May 5, 2013, with an order to detain him signed on May 9, 2013. The revocation of bail involved his continued refusal to comply with the modified bail conditions ordering him to refrain from alcohol use and to participate in drug treatment. As well, there was probable cause to believe he had committed another federal, state or local crime, namely that he was arrested and charged with Simple Assault for physically and violently assaulting his wife.
On April 25, 2013, the government requested an immediate bail review hearing, which was granted. On May 7 the government moved for detention (DiVenti was already being detained by the State of New Jersey because of pending criminal charges filed against him for the above actions). On May 8, 2013, the order for detention was granted and he is also being held in custody for the duration of the VO Group trial.
Meanwhile, Adam Lacerda, Ashley Lacerda and Ian Resnick have now been prohibited by the Court from having any direct or indirect contact with one another whatsoever, including, but not limited to, any and all types of electronic communications, except through counsel.
To date, thirteen defendants in this case have pled guilty, leaving only the Lacerdas, Resnick, DiVenti and Genevieve Manzoni to face trial. The case is being heard in Camden, NJ Federal Court. The jury trial resumes today, August 26, with more testimony by and in favor of the defendants. The case may go to the jury some time next week.
More details on the issues surrounding the bail revocation of the Lacerdas, plus admissions made under oath by Adam Lacerda, will be published in another InsideTheGate.com special feature tomorrow, August 27. Also see this post in The GateHouse blog.
CORRECTION: Following the publication of this it was learned that Ashley Lacerda was not remanded into custody after all; she was released under house arrest, with a GPS ankle bracelet, in order that she be able to get treatment for her addiction. However, she is barred from communicating, in any way, with Adam Lacerda and Ian Resnick except via attorney.
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