DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - The couple lived a life of luxury. They had Miami Heat season tickets. And parked in front of their $1.2 million waterfront compound in Delray Beach, they had a Bentley, a Mercedes and a Range Rover.
But to afford their lavish lifestyle, the two were hiding dirty secrets in the mail box of an abandoned coin laundry in Delray Beach, prosecutors said. Some of the tricks of their complicated plot: They were pretending to be disabled war veterans to avoid property taxes, they had food stamp cards, and Medicaid cards.
Their dream of real estate wealth ended Wednesday night in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom. Darryl Burke, 50, a former fugitive in a case of federal bank fraud, and his girlfriend Vicki Garland, 50, were convicted in a $15 million bank fraud and wire fraud conspiracy.
The two could not keep up with their lies. Garland was pretending to be the president of a fictitious real estate development company named Next Level Development.
They defrauded banks to obtain mortgages on properties in low-income neighborhoods and dealt with all the fraudulent documentation in the mail box of an abandoned coin laundry in Delray Beach.
Because of their alleged low-income tenants, they enrolled in the federal Section 8 voucher program. They sold more than a dozen properties in a span of seven years and intentionally went into foreclosure a few times to negotiate short sales, prosecutors said.
Burke also created a fake identity with a fraudulent driver's license. When it came to buying property from his own company, he was David Middleton.
This wasn't Burke's first time getting caught for fraud. In 1997, after running from police for about five years, he plead guilty to federal bank fraud charges and served about two years in prison.
U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn is set to sentence the duo on four counts of bank and wire fraud April 18. Burke and his girlfriend face up to 30 years in prison each.
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