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Feds arrest local mayor on mortgage fraud charges

Posted on May 21, 2014 11:00 AM EST

Federal agents arrested local mayor for her involvement in an $8 million mortgage fraud scheme. Lucie Tondreau, the mayor of North Miami, was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents and taken in federal custody. The indictment accuses Tondreau along with co-defendants of using straw buyers to purchase at least 20 homes in the South Florida area and receiving kickbacks after the loans were issued by several lending institutions. Along with being hit by federal charges, the mayor is in jeopardy of being suspended from official duties by the governor of Florida. Tondreau will remain in office until the governor's office has the opportunity to review the indictment.

Tondreau is facing charges along with additional co-defendants. One of the defendants owned and operated a mortgage firm out of Miramar, Florida. A disbarred lawyer and recruiter were also charged in the indictment. All four defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. The fraud allegedly occurred between 2005 and 2008 with losses suffered by lending institutions in excess of $8 million. As charged, the defendants are facing up to 20 years in prison. However, each defendant will be subject to federal sentencing guidelines which will determine their potential prison sentences. In wire fraud cases, the potential prison sentences will be dependent on the amount of loss that can be attributed to the defendants.

All of the defendants have made their first appearance in federal court. Defendants taken into federal custody will be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours of their arrest. At the initial appearance, a defendant will be apprised of the charges being levied against him or her. Government prosecutors can negotiate a bond with the criminal defense lawyers representing the defendant(s). Government prosecutors can also seek the pre-trial detention of defendant accused of a crime. If the government and defense stipulate to a bond, a bond amount will be set with three different potential bonds scenarios.

  1. The first type of bond is a personal surety bond. This type of bond only requires that a defendant or other friends or relatives sign court documents obligating the parties to pay in the event the defendant fails to appear for court. If a defendant fails to appear, liens can be attached to the personal property of those who signed the bond paperwork.
  2. The second type of bond is 10% bond. This type of bond requires that 10% of the bond amount must be deposited with the clerk of courts to secure the release of the defendant. Once the case is resolved, the individual who put up the bond money is entitled to its return.
  3. The third type of bond is a corporate surety bond. A defendant will be required to hire a bondsman, and pay the bondsman 15% of the value of the bond. One or a combination of all three types of bonds may be required to secure a defendant's release. In fraud or drug trafficking cases, a Nebbia requirement must also be satisfied. Simply put, a defendant will be required to prove the government and the court that the money posted to secure the bond was obtained from legitimate sources

Attorneys for the government will sometimes seek pre-trial detention rather than agreeing to a bond. The government's position will be determined by the nature of the charge(s), the defendant's potential for risk of flight, and the defendant's potential for being a danger to the community. If the government's seeks pre-trial detention, the government can request three days to prepare before the matter is heard before a magistrate. The defense lawyer representing the accused can request as much a five days to prepare for the hearing. The magistrate will consider the charges, risk of flight and danger to the community and can either agree with the government or hold the defendant until the case is tried or a guilty plea is entered. The magistrate can also override the government and order that a defendant is entitled to bail.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/19/4124451/feds‑to‑charge‑north‑miami‑mayor.html