Former North Miami Mayor Sentenced in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Former North Miami Mayor was sentenced by United States District Judge Robert N. Scola for her participation in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Drew J. Breakspear, Commissioner, Florida Office of Financial Regulation, made the announcement.
Following a federal jury trial, Marie Lucie Tondreau, a/k/a “Lucie Tondreau,” 54, of North Miami, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. As shown at trial, between December 2005 and May 2008, Tondreau and her co-defendants Karl Oreste, 56, of Miramar, Florida, and Okechukwu Josiah Odunna, a/k/a “O.J. Odunna,” 49, of Lauderdale, Florida orchestrated a mortgage fraud scheme.
Oreste, president of KMC Mortgage Corporation of Florida (KMC Mortgage), a mortgage lending business in North Miami Beach, identified residential properties in South Florida that were for sale. Oreste and Tondreau, who at the time was a community activist, hosted several radio show programs in the South Florida area in which they advertised the services offered by KMC Mortgage. Oreste and Tondreau recruited and paid some of the listeners who responded to those advertisements, as well as other individuals, to pose as borrowers to purchase properties identified by Oreste.
Oreste, Odunna, and other co-conspirators prepared or caused to be prepared loan applications on behalf of straw borrowers recruited by Oreste and Tondreau. Odunna was an attorney, previously licensed to practice law in the State of Florida, and president of O.J. Odunna, P.A. and Direct Title and Escrow Services (Direct Title). The loan applications included false information relating to employment, wages, assets and the purchaser’s intent to maintain the purchased property as a primary residence. The loan applications and supporting documents were submitted by the co-conspirators to various mortgage lenders, throughout the United States. Once the loan applications were approved, Tondreau wired funds to O.J. Odunna, P.A., Direct Title, or other title companies for the closing costs.
In some instances Oreste, Odunna and other co-conspirators created and submitted duplicate HUD-Settlement Statement Forms, which grossly inflated the true purchase price of the properties. The HUD-1 Settlement Statements also falsely represented to the mortgage lenders that the straw borrowers had met their down payment and cash to close obligations, when in truth and fact, the straw borrowers had never made any such payments.
At closing, a portion of loan proceeds were disbursed to Oreste through his company, JR Investment and Mortgage Corporation, or other bank accounts he controlled. In some instances, a portion of the loan proceeds were diverted to accounts controlled by O.J. Odunna, P.A. and Direct Title. Oreste disbursed some of the proceeds that he received to pay recruiters, such as Tondreau and co-conspirator Kelly Augustin, and straw borrowers. Oreste also transferred a substantial portion of the funds to the bank account of LTO Investment Corporation, a company controlled by Tondreau. Tondreau used the deposited funds to make payments on the fraudulently obtained mortgages, maintain the loans and use the monies for her own personal benefit.
Over the course of the mortgage fraud scheme, Tondreau was involved in obtaining 13 loans for which the lenders suffered approximately $8,000,000 in losses. Of the proceeds from the fraudulent scheme, more than $300,000 was deposited into Tondreau’s business account and an additional $100,000 into her personal bank accounts.
Tondreau was sentenced to 65 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. A restitution hearing has been scheduled for Friday, May 22, 2015, before the Honorable Judge Scola.
In February 2015, Oreste was sentenced to 100 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release. Oreste was further ordered to pay $8,215,197.28 in restitution.
Odunna and Augustin were indicted and remain fugitives.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and Florida Office of Financial Regulation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lois Foster-Steers and Gera R. Peoples.