Ex-cop, ex-con from New York accused of running financial cons in South Florida

Victims tell Call Christina they want to see Kenneth A. Frank held accountable

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

NEW YORK - A caller asked Call Christina for help, claiming a man is conning people out of money by pretending to be a licensed Florida attorney. He is also accused of violently beating a woman.

From New York to South Florida, Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez tracked down prison records, court records and incident reports which document a number of complaints and charges against Kenneth A. Frank, from writing bad checks to grand theft and aggravated battery.

New York public records show that decades ago Frank was a New Rochelle police officer before serving time on a drug charge.

People who identify themselves as victims of Frank claim not enough is being done to hold him accountable.

"It is hard to watch other people being victimized and feel good about the system," said Gina Hanna. "I believe in the system, but people have to do something."

Hanna claims that in 2012 Frank conned her by taking $8,000 in a rental scam. He was charged with grand theft, a third degree felony. She applauded the investigative work performed by Lighthouse Point police and Broward Sheriff's Office economic crimes unit. The case was then handed over to the Broward County state attorney's office, which in 2013 declined all charges.

In a letter to Hanna, assistant state attorney John Countryman wrote that he does "not believe that there is sufficient evidence to justify prosecution." Later in the letter, he stated, "Unless additional information surfaces, I do not think that we can prove a theft."

"I don't think any case is 100 percent until you can go try the case," stated Hanna in frustration. "It is a free-for-all for the con artists. They can go and do all the financial crimes that they want and no one is going to slap them on the wrist. If they would have just tried my case there would not have been another victim."

In 2015, the BSO fielded another complaint against Frank. The incident report states, "Victims hired suspect to represent them in legal matters as an attorney. Discovered that he was not an attorney, have paid him over 38000 USD over a year and a half."

The BSO told Local 10 News that report is under investigation.

One of the victims told Vazquez she is too scared to go on camera. She claims Frank has threatened her, her parents and even her daughter.

Claims of intimidation and threats surface in other complaints filed against Frank to include a 2012 complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. The complainant told federal regulators, "This person is dangerous. And I would ask that you not reveal my name or personal information to him or anyone he's associated with. He has threatened me to keep my mouth shut."

WEB EXTRA: Former prosecutor David Weinstein opines on Call Christina investigation into complaints against Kenneth A. Frank.

"He left for me dead," Lynda Suzanne Whedon said. "I am scared of him and what he is capable of doing."

In 2011, Whedon told police Frank violently punched her in the face for singing on his boat. In a police report, a Hillsboro Beach police officer noted that when he arrived she "was covered in blood from her scalp to her waist."

A warrant was secured on Oct. 14, 2011. According to police, on Oct. 26, 2011, while Frank was at a bar, a BSO detective arrested him. He was charged with aggravated battery.

That case is still pending with the state attorney's office. Prosecutors said they would not comment on why it has taken more than four years to bring the case to trial.

"'Standby subpoena, standby subpoena,' and I’m like, 'Did I have to die? Why are they prolonging this?' I just don't understand? I don’t matter?" asked Whedon in a Skype interview with Local 10 News.

"(Frank) told me he would pour gasoline on me and light me on fire if I ever came near him, and if I didn't drop the case with the Broward Sheriff’s Office," Charles Nixon said.

Nixon alleges that in 2009 Frank, a former business partner, forged documents at a bank to liquidate his 401(k). His attorney claims damages exceeded $100,000.

A deputy would note in a BSO event report with a report date of Oct. 19, 2009, "Mr. Nixon indicated that he has never signed any form related to this account and needs a report completed. Nixon has indicated that this account was opened by a Kenneth Frank."

In what is called a "short investigative action report," dated Dec. 2, 2009, BSO's criminal investigations unit stated, "based on the information supplied by the victim, there is insufficient information to warrant further investigative action."

The 2009 case is pending inactive.

Nixon hired Sarasota attorney Brad Gucciardo, who told Local 10 News that Nixon alleges that a bank employee enabled Frank to fraudulently open an account, "transfer all of Nixon's IRA savings ($86,000) into the account, then withdraw the money. As a result, Nixon has been forced to incur taxes, penalties and interest on that early IRA distribution. As a result, Nixon has not only lost that pre-tax retirement savings. He has also lost the opportunity to invest that money. Those damages exceed $110,000."

"The public is being attacked by this man and he continues to do it blatantly and brazenly," Nixon said. "(Frank) has no fear because nobody has ever done anything to him."

When Vazquez caught up with Frank outside a Pompano Beach home, he declined to comment. Instead, clutching a little brown dog close to his chest, he entered an unmarked white van and took off.

Days later, when Vazquez contacted Frank over the phone and offered him another opportunity to speak on camera, Frank replied, "You're kidding, right?" When Vazquez explained she wanted to provide him the opportunity to speak about the pattern of complaints and the charges filed against him, to include grand theft and aggravated battery, he chuckled before replied, "No, thank you. No, thank you. I don't know how that is relevant to Channel 10 News."

"These are heinous crimes, every one of them," Whedon said. "I don’t care if it's somebody who lost their money to him, or got the crap beaten out of them. We are all victims, and what is it going to take for them to take this guy down and put him where he belongs -- in prison."

"As a taxpaying citizen, I want this to be stopped," Hanna said, "I don't think we need these types of people in our society who are going to continue to con people."

"I believe prosecutorial discretion is probably the biggest crime committed on the public," Nixon said. "I don't think a prosecutor should have a right to decide if your case goes before a judge and a jury."

A spokeswoman for the Florida Bar confirmed its Unlicensed Practice of Law Department has one pending case for Kenneth A. Frank. She also said all other information about that pending case is confidential at this time.

PATTERN OF COMPLAINTS

The Federal Trade Commission has fielded three complaints about Frank.

In 2013, one person stated, "Kenneth Anthony Frank is practicing law without a license. Mr. Frank takes money and promises a loan modification, however prefers to write papers for people on a pro-se basis to send them into court."

Of Frank, one person told federal regulators in 2012, "This person is dangerous." The complainant also stated, "He currently charges a monthly fee for his services (foreclosure defense). He has threatened me to keep my mouth shut."

Consumers have also sounded off about Frank on online complaint boards like RipOffReport.com.

In 2015, one person described Frank as a con man, scum bag. In 2013, someone described him as a scam artist. In 2012, a complainant warned that Frank is a "foreclosure wannabe lawyer" and complained of threatening texts.

2012 complaint against Frank

2013 complaint against Frank

2015 complaint against Frank

State records show Kenneth A. Frank has filed several business names with the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations over the years to include:

  • KNA Management Services Corp.
  • Oceanside Lauderdale, Inc.
  • SG Hospitality Enterprises, Inc.
  • 1406 North Ocean Associates, Inc.
  • One Dixie South, Inc.
  • UTS Products, Incorporated
  • El Mar Associates Inc.
  • Foreclosure Defense Consultants (Expires 12/31/2017)
  • VMF Holdings (Expires 12/31/2019)

 

CHARLES NIXON

"He was introduced to me as an attorney," explained Nixon.

Nixon said he met Frank through Frank's ex-girlfriend when the two moved from New York to Florida to open a business in South Florida.

"(Frank) started to do a foreclosure defense on my house," Nixon said. "(He) used intimidation to keep working with him."

Nixon said one day he received an email from a bank about an account he wasn't aware of. He said when he entered a bank branch to learn more about this account, "They found all the paperwork that (Frank) used to open my account -- fraudulent accounts."

A deputy would note in a BSO event report with a report date of Oct. 19, 2009, "Mr. Nixon indicated that he has never signed any form related to this account and needs a report completed. Nixon has indicated that this account was opened by a Kenneth Frank."

In what is called a short investigative action report dated Dec. 2, 20009, BSO's criminal investigations unit stated, "Based on the information supplied by the victim, there is insufficient information to warrant further investigative action."

The 2009 case is pending inactive.

GINA HANNA

"I was looking for a house to rent," explained Gina Hanna. "We saw a sign in the lawn and it said 'for rent by owner' and called that number, and that's how I met Kenneth Frank at KNA Associates."

She gave him first, last and security for $6,000 and an extra $2,000 for additional rent for a total of $8,000. Copies of her checks show the money was paid to Kenneth A. Frank.

Hanna said only after the tenant moved in did she discover Frank was not the property owner.

In a 2012 Lighthouse Point police report, Detective Kevin Hancock explained that in a series of texts, Hanna requested Frank "provide her with the property documentation indicating he has power of attorney and owns the house via a trust as he himself indicated in the messages. Kenneth refused to provide this information to Gina. Kenneth's failure to provide the requested documentation caused her to become suspicious of Kenneth's alleged authorization to lease the property. Gina began to research and discovered that the property was not owned by Kenneth Frank."

"I never got my money back," Hanna said.

Frank told police he was helping another man who he claims provided him a copy of a contract deed from 2010.

"Kenneth told me he found no issue with the deed, so he agreed to post the property for rent and manage the lease of the property for a 50/50 split," Hancock said.

Hancock said that he reviewed the lease agreement between Frank and that other man and noticed it was "not signed nor was it notarized." The detective added that Frank told him he never contacted the person listed in county records as the property owner "or made any other effort to identify the current owner of the property."

The report dated Nov. 6, 2012, states, "as of this date, I have not been provided with any documentation stated Kenneth Frank has the authority to lease this properly and benefit financially from leasing it." It goes on to state that Frank "granted himself title of lessor, holder of power of attorney and owner of the property via a trust (as indicated in text messages) under false pretenses with the intent of receiving monies from potential renters."

Hanna told Local 10 News that Frank threatened her and demanded more money.

"It is unnerving," she said.

A BSO detective would assist in the investigation. Frank would be charged with grand theft, a third-degree felony.

BSO records show Frank was arrested for grand theft of $5,000 or more but less than $1000 on Feb. 1, 2013.

Hanna said she applauded the investigative work performed by detectives. The case was then handed to the state attorney's office, which declined to prosecute.

The state attorney's office also chose not to prosecute Frank on a charge of unlicensed real estate broker/salesman.

That decline memo states, "Decline: Day 148, the case cannot be prosecuted without a violation of the speedy trial rule."

Hanna said she is frustrated prosecutors didn’t move forward with her case.

"If they would have just tried my case there would not have been another victim," Hanna said.

Vazquez sent all the documents related to her case to former state and federal prosecutor David Weinstein.

"In a criminal prosecution, it is not just about trying the case," he said. "These types of cases are among the most difficult for prosecutors to prove. Criminal intent has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a business dispute, which becomes a civil case, the standard is preponderance, or greater weight of the evidence. Based on the facts contained in the police reports and interviews, what Frank did was improper and the basis to file a civil lawsuit. But without more, the state was unable to be prove beyond a reasonable doubt that was a crime."

"He's pretty savvy," Hanna said of Frank.

When the Call Christina team visited the Pompano Beach business address listed in state records for KNA & Associates, the person in the building said that company had since moved out.

LYNDA SUZANNE WHEDON

"I am scared of him and what he is capable of doing," said Lynda Suzanne Whedon. "I am not letting this go. This guy beat the crap out of me. I have the scars to prove it on my forehead from his ring."

Whedon said in 2011 she was on a boat Frank when a song came on the radio and she began to sing. She said she had been friends with Frank for several months. She said Frank asked her to stop singing.

She told Local 10 News she thought he was kidding, and when she continued to sing, "He said you need to shut the (expletive) up and started beating my face. His fists were hitting my face so fast that I could not even fall. He was hitting me so fast and so hard that blood just came gushing out of my body."

Whedon said Frank didn’t let her get her cellphone, stating, "You will just call 911."

She said she convinced him to drop her off at a dock. In a police report, Detective J. Landry wrote, "Upon being dropped off, the victim had one foot on the dock and was trying to get her cellphone back from the defendant when he pulled the vessel away and the victim fell into the water. The defendant made no attempt to render first aid to the victim and deprived her of means of communication to call 911 for help. The victim ran into the roadway and flagged down a vehicle who then called the Hillsboro Beach Police Department."

A Hillsboro Beach police officer would write in his report that when he arrived that "(Whedon was) covered in blood from her scalp to her waist."

She would suffer large lacerations to her forehead and bruises on her arms.

It is stated in another report that Whedon thought the injuries might have been caused "by a large ring, which is clustered with white rocks and from a large heavy bracelet, which the suspect is wearing."

Frank is pictured with a ring and bracelet matching that description in a photo obtained by Local 10 News.

"He left me for dead," said Whedon. "He didn't stick around on his boat to see if I got on that dock. I don't deserve to be beaten up by anybody. People should not be able to get away with abusing other people."

Hillsboro Beach police would note that the victim was re-interviewed twice after the initial report was made.

"The victim's story is consistent," Landry said.

Police would note in reports that they had a tough time finding Frank. They visited his last known address on six occasions, called him, even spoke to his attorney, Deborah Carpenter-Toye, who "decided against allowing the suspect to provide a formal statement."

According to police, on Oct. 26, 2011, while Frank was at a bar, BSO arrested him. He was charged with aggravated battery.

Her case is still pending. The state attorney's office did not comment on why it has taken more than four years to bring the case to trial.

Whedon provided crime scene photos from the 2011 case that she said were from a disc sent to her by the Hillsboro Beach Police Department.

In an email, Major Jay Szesnat stated they could not confirm the photos as any photos they have are currently in evidence until the case goes to trial.

"How can anybody who had done as many wrongs as him still be out there?" Whedon said. "Protect the people of your community against criminals that continue to commit heinous crimes. He needs to be locked up for a long, long -- lifetime long -- time."

Frank's attorney did not provide a written statement upon request.

THE BOAT

In a Nov. 7, 2011, Hillsboro Beach police report regarding Whedon’s incident, Landry wrote, "No additional search for physical evidence was conducted due to the fact that the vessel where the actual offense was committed is unidentified and has not been located."

"When I was giving my affidavit, they were very interested in that he had invited me onto his boat to do a little business, Hanna said during her interview with Local 10 News.

One text message dated Sep. 5, 2012, at 1:38 p.m. that Hanna said came from Frank reads, "Can u come out and play on boat friday afternoon?"

Another that Hanna said came from Frank dated Sept. 11, 2012, read, "On a better note…when do i get to see ur pretty face on the boat?"

On Sept. 21, 2012, at 6:46 p.m. a text Hanna said was sent by Frank reads, "How r u…do u  have time for lunch tomorrow and to talk about the water…fun and a little business."

Hanna said after investigators took her affidavit is when she learned about Whedon’s 2011 aggravated battery case.

"I was scared for my life," said Hanna. "I considered myself so lucky that nothing happened to me."

DISABLED?

Frank was also a party in a suit filed in federal court against Village Grille in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

He claimed his little brown dog is a service animal and filed suit against the restaurant in federal court for denying him entrance.

Court filings show Frank failed to comply with his discovery obligations and failed to appear at several court hearings.

The case was tossed out in 2015, dismissed with prejudice, after Frank failed to prove the question of disability and validity of the dog as a service dog.

NEW YORK

New York state records show decades ago that Frank was a New Rochelle Police officer before serving time on a drug charge.

Capt. Cosmo Costa of the New Rochelle Police Department told Vazquez that Frank was appointed to the department on Feb. 10, 1985, and resigned on Sept. 20, 1989.

"No other information would be available," he said.

A spokesman for New York State Department of Corrections confirmed to Local 10 News that Frank served just shy of three years behind bars for "attempted criminal sale of controlled substance, grand larceny -- not auto."

He was released on Oct. 2, 2006, and completed community supervision two years after that.

Local 10 News also contacted Judge Anthony Carbone's office in New Rochelle. That office confirmed Frank was charged with petit larceny and issuing a bad check with known insufficient funds.

It was adjudged in 2003 that Frank receive one year conditional discharge, one year order of protection and pay $590 in restitution.

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