Companies tied to Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez bought and sold nearly three dozen homes that were once part of the Dade County Custody Program, more than previously reported.
Many of those deals also involved Antonio Lorenzo, who made tens of thousands of dollars on those deals, according to a Miami real estate broker and appraiser. WLRN Survey.Lorenzo is often featured in deals involved Express home, a company owned by Mendes’ husband, Carlos Morales, and Gallego Homes, a company owned by Mendes’ mother, Margarita Mendes. The city attorney served as vice president of Gallego Homes until 2018, when the company was legally dissolved this year.
The Guardianship Program is a nonprofit organization funded by Miami-Dade County and the state dedicated to caring for those who are incapacitated or unable to care for themselves. The agency controls their property and sells it to cover their living expenses, but any profits from the subsequent resale of the home are not used to pay for the individual’s care.
Miami realtor Lorenzo co-owns a title company with Victoria Mendes and her husband. He assesses property on behalf of guardianship plans. Their collaboration began in 2009, when Lorenzo appraised a West Flagler apartment owned by a woman who had been declared incapacitated for $20,000, WLRN reported. Guardianship sold the unit to Express Homes for $5,000.
Within days of the initial sale, Express Homes sold or transferred the once-guardian-controlled real estate to a business owned by Lorenzo’s father, Antoliano Lorenzo.
Antonio Lorenzo’s wife, Melissa, was also involved. In 2020, a company she owns earned a $7,500 commission on the sale of the home of an incapacitated woman in Liberty City, which was sold through a nonprofit for $125,000. Express Homes purchased the property, renovated it and sold it the following year for $360,000. Antonio Lorenzo facilitated the second auction. He holds a license with Lexan Real Estate, which is owned by his wife.
Following the WLRN report, the Miami-Dade County Inspector General’s Office has been investigating the guardianship program. Miami-Dade County and the nonprofit agreed to suspend property sales until the investigation is completed.