Marie Lucie Tondreau, the mayor of North Miami, Florida, was found guilty of six counts of wire fraud, stemming from her part in an alleged mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded lenders to the tune of $8 million.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Tondreau, who was elected as North Miami’s mayor in 2013, used her weekly radio show and illegal cash payments to recruit buyers to lie on mortgage applications to obtain loans that were never used to buy homes in a scheme that stretched from 2005 to 2008.
A Reuters report provides details on how Tondreau and Karl Oreste, Tondreau’s onetime fiancée, recruited people to provide their personal information in exchange for up to $10,000. Prosecutors said that Tondreau and Oreste then used the people’s personal information to complete falsified mortgage documents.
From the Reuters report:
Between 2005 and 2008 Tondreau brought in 13 individuals whose identities were used to buy 20 Miami-area homes that were rented out for profit, according to prosecutors.
The $11 million mortgage fraud scheme unraveled when one straw buyer was contacted by a lender about an overdue mortgage payment, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lois Foster-Steers.
“When he went to her for help … Ms. Tondreau said he had money in his pocket, and he shouldn’t complain,” Foster-Steers said during closing arguments on Monday.
During the trial, Tondreau’s lawyers said that Oreste led the scheme and misled Tondreau, but a federal jury disagreed and found her guilty.
Oreste previously pleaded guilty to seven wire fraud charges and is due to receive his sentence early next year.
Tondreau faces up to 30 years in prison for her crimes.