Crook lies about heart surgery to delay sentencing

The prosecutor had his finger on the pulse of the fraud case against Michael Dale Martinez, a 54-year-old San Carlos crook who allegedly lied about needing heart surgery in order to delay a prison sentence.

After receiving a note from Martinez’ doctor on Feb. 13, a judge reportedly didn’t have the heart to sentence Martinez on felony convictions for burglary, credit card fraud and ID theft. The note stated Martinez would undergo major surgery in two days, so the judge delayed the sentencing. At the time, prosecutors said, Martinez was facing as many as four years in prison.

But the daughter of Martinez’ girlfriend, who also happens to be a victim in his theft case, knew the truth: His heart might be cold, but it does not require surgery. A prosecutor didn’t skip a beat when the daughter came forward about the alleged fraud, promptly obtaining the letter Martinez had submitted to the judge.

“Although it appeared official, he suspected it was fraudulent,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Among the problems with the letter, Wagstaffe said, was it was dated last year, and the bottom of the letter listed former members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, including Jerry Hill, Mark Church and Rich Gordon.

The DA’s office contacted Dr. Hassid and learned he had not seen Martinez since August.

“There was no heart issue requiring surgery,” Wagstaffe said.

Martinez, who has 10 prior felony convictions, is now facing more charges and is in custody on $250,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear today for a preliminary hearing, Wagstaffe said.


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