All of South Florida is abuzz with the same news that I received a little after 2:00 pm today in the form of a text, “She’s been found guilty.”
The “she” is, of course, North Miami suspended Mayor Lucie Tondreau, who has maintained her innocence from the time of her arrest for mortgage fraud, among other charges, on May 20, 2014.
Apparently, the jury was unconvinced.
After I made a quick phone call to confirm the news, I literally pulled my car off the road to park and post a quick blog a couple of hours ago from my phone.
About an hour ago, the Miami Herald published an article, Suspended North Miami Mayor Tondreau found guilty of mortgage fraud, stating:
The 12-person jury, which deliberated for only two hours, convicted Tondreau of conspiracy and wire-fraud charges after a two-week trial. Tondreau, who was elected as North Miami’s first Haitian-American female mayor in 2013, now faces up to 30 years in prison at her sentencing March 20.
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola refused to grant a request by her defense attorney, Ben Kuehne, to remain free on bond while she awaited sentencing. Scola said she used her “celebrity” and “hoodwinked” buyers into allowing their names to be placed on bogus loan applications in exchange for kickbacks in a “massive” fraud against various banks.
The judge, noting the fraud was committed before Tondreau was elected as mayor, said she was no different than any other convicted defendant and ordered her to surrender to U.S. Marshals in the courtroom while about 50 supporters watched in silence.
“I’m going to treat her like somebody who is what she is — a common criminal,” Scola said.
While supporters of Lucie Tondreau are disappointed, there are those who feel that she got her just deserts. One person told me that Lucie’s conviction should put all politicians on notice that the public is not going to stand for corruption any longer.
Before we get too smug, let’s also take note that while Lucie went from “Indicted” to “Guilty” in less than seven months, it’s been two years, two months and twenty six days since North Miami Beach EX-Mayor/Felony Defendant Myron Rosner has been arrested. He still has not been brought to trial!
This evening will be Myron’s third Chanukah as a free man after his perp walk. He can thank Ben Kuehne for that. In Myron’s case, Ben earned this tee!
Ben, of course, cried foul. He told the Herald that the verdict “is as disappointing as it is unexpected.”
But what do I know? I’m just a blogger.
In any event, her conviction should quash any rumors that Lucie will try to get her mayoral seat back or run against Mayor Smith Joseph next May.
Frankly, Lucie’s conviction does not make me happy. I’m never happy to find out that an elected official is corrupt. It only further erodes what little respect I have for politicians to begin with, and makes it even easier for me to be convinced that they’re all cut from the same mold. Whenever a politician falls from grace, it only adds to my already low opinion of government in general. If we cannot trust the people we elect to represent us and be our voice in government, why bother voting at all?
Then again, if it weren’t for corruption, we bloggers would have nothing juicy to write about.
So, yeah, the hell with all that moralizing.
Earlier this afternoon, U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer made this statement:
“Today’s conviction against Marie Lucie Tondreau is a success in our continuing efforts to fight mortgage fraud that jeopardizes our nation’s financial institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “Tondreau abused her prominence in the community to perpetrate the $8,000,000 mortgage fraud scheme, which thanks to the efforts of my Office’s prosecutors and federal and state law enforcement we successfully unraveled. We will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals who engage in deceptive and fraudulent behavior, fueled by greed.”
Amen to that!
UPDATE: The Miami Herald article was updated at 5:59 pm to include a statement issued by Ben Kuehne: “For a community conscience who has lived her life to serve the people, she was victimized by the fraud operation of a man she thought was both an honest businessman and her honorable fiancé. She now knows the truth, and counts herself as yet another target of his fraud and deception. Lucie Tondreau asks the community to keep her in their prayers at this difficult time.”
2nd UPDATE: Click to read the U.S. Attorney’s Press Release
“Spreading the Wealth”