Fifteen Charged in Telemarketing Scheme to Defraud Timeshare Unit Owners
Forty-One Defendants Charged to Date on Timeshare Resale Telemarketing Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 07, 2013|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today a two-count indictment charging conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment charges the following 15 defendants: Pasquale Pappalardo, 60, of Coral Springs, Florida; Pasqualino Agovino, 49, of Coral Springs, Florida; Patride Ditroia, 43, of Coral Springs, Florida; Louis Duany, 64, Wilton Manors, Florida; Michael Bleich, formerly of Boca Raton, Florida, 36; Audwin Lovinsky, of Tamarac, Florida, 35; Ibrahim Al-Dabbas, 47, Deerfield Beach, Florida; Michael Vincent Scheel, 50, of Boca Raton, Florida; Diana Harrington, 65, of Boca Raton, Florida; Ashley Lowton, 24, of Clermont, Florida; Charles Lee, 24, of Coral Springs, Florida; Kenneth Rockmore, 27, of Lauderhill, Florida; Ricardo Davis, 25, of Tamarac, Florida; Milton Oliver, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida; and Clinton Ross, 57, of Redondo Beach, California. All defendants are charged in count one of the indictment with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Count two charges defendants Pappalardo, Agovino, Ditroia, and Duany with conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956. Defendants Pappalardo, Ditroia, Lovinsky, Oliver, Agovino, Duany, Lowton, Davis, and Lee all appeared in court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow. Bond hearings are scheduled for tomorrow. Arrests are expected to continue during the week.
So far, 41 defendants have been charged to date for their involvement with a timeshare resale telemarketing room called Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group Inc. (TMMMG). The other cases previously filed include Case Nos. 11-60190-CR-Cohn, 11-60247-Cr-Marra, 11-60268-Cr-Hurley, 12-60019-Cr-Scola, 12-60149- Cr- Scola, and 12-mj-6114-RSR.
According to the indictment, in June 2009, Pappalardo incorporated TMMMG, using defendant Duany and Duany’s mother as nominee owners. Pappalardo was a co-owner of TMMMG, and Ditroia, Agovino, and Duany helped run TMMMG for him. According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants conspired to unlawfully enrich themselves by making false representations over the telephone to individuals who were trying to sell their time-share units. Among the false statements, the defendants would tell customers, most of whom lived outside of the state of Florida, that the defendants had successfully sold their time-share unit and asked the customer to pay a fee to finalize the sale, a which fee would purportedly be refunded at closing. This fee ranged from at least $1,996 to as much as $10,000.
According to the indictment, the defendants knew that TMMMG never had any buyers for any of the sellers of their timeshare units. In this way, during the 10 months that TMMMG was in business, it fraudulently induced customers to send approximately $5,000,000 to TMMMG, of which Pappalardo received at least $300,000 in checks and hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash from victims.
If convicted, defendants Pappalardo, Agovino, Ditroia, and Duany each face a possible statutory maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison. Defendants Bleich, Lovinsky, Al-Dabbas, Scheel, Harrington, Lowton, Lee, Rockmore, Davis, Oliver, and Ross each face a possible statutory maximum sentence of up to twenty years in prison.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also recognized the assistance provided by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the Federal Trade Commission during this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.