Suspended North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau is in Miami federal court today as opening statements begin in her mortgage fraud trial.
Tondreau is accused along with three co-defendants of defrauding banks of $11 million during the South Florida real estate boom, according to published reports.
Prosecutors allege that Tondreau and businessman Karl Oreste used Creole-language radio talk shows to advertise Oreste’s KMC Mortgage Corp and reel in straw borrowers.
The straw borrowers then filed bogus loan applications to purchase 20 homes between 2005 and 2008, according to the Miami Herald.
The indictment alleges that Tondreau and Oreste used the loan money to pay off the straw buyers, a recruiter and a title company attorney, but they kept most of the money themselves.
The loan applications allegedly misrepresented assets, incomes and employers. Tondreau and Oreste are accused of inflating home sales prices to dupe lenders into giving them higher loans. The Herald reports that Oreste pleaded guilty in July to a mortgage conspiracy charge and is expected to testify against Tondreau. Gov. Rick Scott suspended Tondreau from office in May after she was charged with fraud, the paper reported. [Miami Herald] – Chris Guanche