lundi, mai 19, 2014

Haitian-American Mayor Lucie Tondreau of North Miami gets a visit from the FBI with an Arrest Warrant

Federal agents planned to arrest North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau on mortgage fraud charges Monday but she was out of town — attending a convention in Las Vegas.
When she returns, the mayor will join three other suspects facing charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and actual wire under an indictment unsealed Monday afternoon.

All four were charged with defrauding lenders on $8 million in loans used to purchase 20 South Florida properties by using “straw buyers” in 2006, according to the indictment. The mayor is accused of using her radio program at the time to recruit alleged buyers for the fraudulent loans.
Another defendant, Karl Oreste, 56, of Miramar, made a first appearance Monday in Miami federal court. Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan granted him a release on a $50,000 bond.
Tondreau’s defense attorney, Ben Kuehne, told The Miami Herald that his client called him Monday after family members notified her that FBI agents had come to her North Miami home with an arrest warrant.
Kuehne said his client was out of town on official city business.
“I would have liked to surrender her voluntarily,” Kuehne said. “That’s what I’m working on now.”
While federal agents searched for her in Miami, Tondreau was on the other side of the country attending RECon, the International Council of Shopping Centers' global real estate convention, in Las Vegas.
City spokeswoman Pam Solomon said Tondreau and Lesly Prudent, coordinator of the the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, are at the conference to attract businesses to North Miami.
Tondreau did not immediately respond voicemail or text sent to her cellphone.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.
Last June, North Miami voters elected Tondreau as the city’s first-ever Haitian-American female mayor. She defeated Kevin Burns with nearly 60 percent of the vote, in an election fraught with racial tensions because of the changing demographics of the city.
“I love my community,” Tondreau said at the time. “Once the election is over, it’s time for the city to be united. We need one city for all residents.”
Tondreau is a veteran public relations and political consultant, most recently as the outreach specialist for the Biscayne Landing project through her company Tondreau and Associates.
She was recently treasurer of NIC Investment Corps, which is run out of her North Miami-based office by Charles Nacivre, her campaign manager.
In a separate probe, Tondreau is also being investigated by state prosecutors, who last year tied online absentee-ballot requests made in bulk to her campaign office. Florida law prohibits ballot requests to come from anyone other than voters themselves or their family. Tondreau has denied any wrongdoing
Over the years, state records show her co-defendant Oreste has registered about a dozen real estate, investment and financial companies.
In 2006, he was president of LTO Investment Corporation in North Miami Beach. According to state filings, Tondreau was vice-president of that company. The company is listed as inactive as of September 2007.
Oreste's most recent venture, A Plus Financial Group based out of Miramar was dissolved in Sept 2010 for not filing an annual report with the state.

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