Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bobka's Ex Tells of His Deals

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bobka's Ex Tells of His Deals

Article excerpt

TAMPA

They called it "Craigonomics" and pitched their illicit real estate flipping scheme at every informal social gathering they attended.

That is what Rich Bobka's former girlfriend and title agent, Monica Ischinger, told jurors about Bobka and his mentor -- Sarasota flipping king Craig Adams -- during three hours of testimony in U.S. District Court Thursday.

Dressed in a long black sweater and black slacks, Ischinger answered questions about a real estate deal she helped Bobka close on Valentine's Day 2003. She also spoke of her four-year relationship with the man who has pleaded guilty to playing a central role in one of the largest flipping fraud schemes in Florida history.

In the process, Ischinger admitted she illegally co-mingled funds, notarized signatures without knowing if they were authentic and lied repeatedly on closing documents.

Ischinger also acknowledged she, too, participated in Craigonomics. In January 2005, she bought a Sarasota condo in her mother's name from Bobka for $100,000 but told a bank she had paid $120,000 to get a larger loan.

Holding back tears, Ischinger told the jury she was not proud of herself.

"I can tell you that, nine years later, it still bothers me," she said.

But while 19 others have been indicted in the decade-long conspiracy to defraud banks, and 16 of them -- including the mastermind, Adams -- have pleaded guilty, Ischinger has not been charged with any crime.

She only appeared in court Thursday to help the government cement its case around three remaining defendants -- Bobka's brother and sister-in-law, George Cavallo and Paula Hornberger, and former insurance executive Joel Streinz.

Ischinger told the jury she met Bobka in 2001 when she was working for Security First Title and he was a fledgling real estate agent at Re/Max Properties.

Their two companies had a joint venture together, Ischinger said. They saw each other frequently at meetings and began dating in the Spring of 2002.

By the following Valentine's Day, they had committed their first crime together -- one that cost Ischinger a new job at Chelsea Title but did nothing to quell Bobka's penchant for illegal deals. …

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