Ex-Monroeville tennis champ loses bid for new fraud trial

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Alfredo Sararo, a former Monroeville man convicted in Florida of ripping off 13 affluent Pittsburgh-area investors in a complex series of real estate frauds, keeps trying and failing to get a new trial.

He lost his latest attempt this morning, when a federal judge in Ft. Myers refused to reconsider his earlier refusal to declare a mistrial.

"[Sararo] simply disagrees with the court's prior opinion," wrote U.S. District Judge John Steele today, "but that is no basis for reconsideration."

The judge had already rejected all of Mr. Sararo's various post-trial motions, including requests for a mistrial and judgment for acquittal, saying the government clearly proved its case during the four-week trial this summer.

The jury convicted Mr. Sararo, a former Monroeville tennis champ and ex-Allegheny County probation officer, of tax and wire fraud counts in connection with property transactions on Florida's Gulf Coast in the mid-2000s.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway of the U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh, where the case began, said Mr. Sararo used his close relationship with retired Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Robert Horgos to dupe other Pittsburghers, including another judge, out of $3.3 million.

Mr. Horgos, who testified under a grant of immunity, was among the chief prosecution witnesses.

Mr. Sararo did not testify in his own defense, citing his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination, but his lawyer argued that Mr. Conway improperly brought that decision to the attention of the jury, a violation of the rules governing closing arguments.

Mr. Conway said he did no such thing, and the judge agreed.

Mr. Sararo will be sentenced Nov. 26.

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Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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