Former North Miami Mayor Found Guilty of Wire Fraud
Marie Lucie Tondreau, the former mayor of Florida’s North Miami, was recently found guilty by a federal jury of committing six separate counts of wire fraud. The acts committed were part of a mortgage fraud scheme that she engaged in with her former fiancé, which is believed to have defrauded mortgage lenders out of $8 million. Federal prosecutors believe from 2005 through 2008, Tondreau utilized both illegal cash payments that she received in addition to her weekly radio show as a platform to recruit people to provide confidential personal information to be used in the submission of fraudulent mortgage applications. It is believed that those who were recruited to submit fraudulent mortgage loan applications provided their personal information in exchange for payments that were sometimes up to $10,000.
Former North Miami Mayor’s Tondreau’s Fraud Scheme
Reuters reports that Tondreau, a Haitian-American radio host and activist, employed her connections and ties to the Caribbean community in Miami to recruit local people to provide their personal information in exchange for cash so that the information could be used to falsify mortgage applications. The downfall of Tondeau has saddened many in her tight knit community where she was lauded as being Miami’s very first female mayor of Haitian descent. Elected in 2013, it was only a year later in May 2014 that Tondreau was indicted by the federal government and suspended from the mayoral office. Sadly, Tondreau has joined a group of almost a half a dozen other Miami-area mayors accused of committing fraud and other illegal activities during the past two years. In 2014, former Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman was found guilty of two felony charges because he held a separate consulting position while in office, and the former mayor of Miami Lakes, Michael Pizzi, was accused of taking bribes from FBI undercover agents, though he was ultimately exonerated of these charges.
It is believed that the total fraud scheme amounted to $11 million in fraudulently procured funds. The fraud scheme began to unravel once a mortgage lender contacted one of the straw buyers about an overdue mortgage payment. This buyer reported the scheme to the authorities after Tondreau refused to provide guidance or help regarding the lender communication. In December of 2014, the prosecution of Tondreau began with her defense team unsuccessfully claiming that Tondreau was just another victim who had been manipulated and defrauded by Karl Oreste, Tondreau’s former fiancé. Earlier that year Oreste had pled guilty to seven counts of wire fraud.
Once Tondreau’s federal prosecution began in December 2014, the federal prosecutors presented evidence alleging with the assistance of her former fiancé she purchased the personal information of 13 individuals. This info was then used to obtain mortgage loans to purchase 20 separate Miami-area homes. After purchase, the homes were rented out for a profit with the funds being pocketed by Tondreau. By the end of the trial, Tondreau was found guilty of six counts of wire fraud that lead to the defrauding of mortgage lenders out of $8 million.
As fraud prosecutions begin to heat up in Florida, it has become clear that the federal government has no problem with going after elected officials. If you need criminal defense representation in any criminal lawsuit, contact Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today.