MIAMI - A federal jury has convicted the suspended mayor of North Miami on charges of participating in an $11 million mortgage fraud scheme.
Jurors returned the verdict Tuesday in the two-week trial of Lucie Tondreau. She faces up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy and wire fraud convictions when she is sentenced March 20.
Federal prosecutors claimed Tondreau and another defendant conspired before she became mayor to defraud lenders using straw buyers, who obtained inflated loans for 20 properties. The scheme allegedly involved recruiting buyers through a radio program catering to Haitian-American listeners.
Tondreau's business partner, Karl Oreste, previously pleaded guilty in the case.
"Lucie is sorely disappointed by this unexpected verdict," her attorney, Ben Kuehne, told Local 10 News. "She was a victim. She was victimized by the fraud by a man she thought was an honest man and her fiance. She, too, was a target of his fraud and deception."
Tondreau became North Miami's first female Haitian-American mayor, but she was suspended from office by Gov. Rick Scott. A new mayor, Smith Joseph, has since been elected.
"I was glad to see it come down this way because now the community can see her for who she was," city councilman Scott Galvin told Local 10 News.
Galvin said there were red flags about ethical practices involving Tondreau almost immediately after last year's election.
"She was convicted for things that she did before she was mayor and the short time that she was mayor, she asked for police escorts for herself and her children," Galvin said.
Galvin said it's a black eye for the city, but he believes Joseph is the right man to lead North Miami.
"I have no doubt we're now moving in the right direction," Galvin said.
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