Florida sentencing hearing set to continue for former Monroeville tennis instructor

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A sentencing hearing for a former Monroeville man convicted of defrauding 14 wealthy Pittsburghers in a series of South Florida real estate scams ended today without a ruling and will extend into a third day Monday in a Fort Myers courtroom.

U.S. District Judge John Steele heard testimony Thursday and again today in the case of Alfredo Sararo, 42, of North Naples, a former tennis teaching pro and ex-Allegheny County probation officer convicted this summer on multiple fraud counts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway told the judge that Mr. Sararo "absolutely hoodwinked" a good friend, retired Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Robert Horgos, into enticing his friends and associates in Pittsburgh into investing in bogus Gulf Coast property deals.

Mr. Horgos, who had been under investigation for years along with Mr. Sararo, received a grant of immunity and testified against Mr. Sararo.

Mr. Conway wants Judge Steele to give Mr. Sararo the maximum 27 years in prison. Robert Rosenblatt, Mr. Sararo's lawyer, is arguing for leniency.

One key element is remorse. Mr. Rosenblatt said Mr. Sararo has shown it and will no longer get into trouble with the law.

But Mr. Conway said recidivism is likely considering Mr. Sararo's repeated brushes with the law in Florida, which he said include falsely identifying himself as a law enforcement officer, stealing a Rolex watch, passing bad checks at Costco and buying furniture with worthless checks.

Mr. Conway also presented evidence that Mr. Sararo and his brother, Christopher Sararo, who lives in California, participated in a mortgage fraud scheme in which they obtained more than $5 million worth of fraudulent loans "based on a series of misrepresentations and bogus documents," including bank statements, tax returns and accountant letters.

"The government's investigation has revealed that the defendant's brother, Christopher Sararo, does not quite rival his brother in the con artist department, but he is not too far behind," Mr. Conway wrote in a pre-sentence brief to discredit Christopher Sararo should he testify for his brother.

The sentencing hearing will continue Monday at 9 a.m. before Judge Steele.

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Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510. First Published January 4, 2013 9:15 AM


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