Daniel Stephen, 42, Miami Shores, FL, Clotilde Jean, 43,Miramar, FL, and Patricia DePons, 53, Miami Shores, FL, were indicted on August25, 2009, for a real estate fraud scam perpetrated in Miami Dade County, Florida. The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, for their participation in a scheme to sell vacant land. Through this scheme, the defendants defrauded more than 1,000 victims of approximately $10.6 million. If convicted, the defendants face a possible maximum statutory sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count.
This case arose from the sale of property in North Florida and Georgia by First Loan Solution, a company owned and operated by defendant Daniel Stephen and his partner, co-defendant Clotilde Jean. According to the Indictment, Stephen, Jean, and other First Loan Solutionemployees sold land to members of the Haitian community in Miami Dade County using advertisements on Haitian radio, leaflets in the community, bus trips to North Florida and direct solicitations of the buyers.
The Indictment alleges that Daniel Stephen, Clotilde Jean and other First Loan Solution employees made material misrepresentations to induce the buyers to purchase the vacant land. For example, Stephen, Jean and their employees allegedly represented to potential buyers that First Loan Solution and Stephen actually owned the land that was being sold to them. In fact, however, First Solution and Stephen did not own the land. Stephen also represented that First Loan Solution would maintain the buyers’ deposit money in escrow prior to closing on the transactions. In fact, however, Stephen used that money for business and personal expenses. Stephen and Jean further represented that the buyers were purchasing individual parcels of land on which the buyers could build. In fact, however, the buyers were purchasing land collectively with other buyers through a limited liability company, and could not build individually on the property.
According to the Indictment, Stephen hired a title company to serve as closing agent. DePons was responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the title company. DePons conducted the closings on the sales, and collected from the buyers the balance due on the sale and the title company’s closing fees. At the closings, DePons issued fraudulent warranty deeds and closing statements to the buyers in an effort to make the closings appear legitimate. Ultimately, the buyers never received title to the land nor, in most cases, refunds of the monies paid to Stephen, Jean and DePons for the land.
Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. Folmar, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida, Office of Financial Regulation, announced the August 25, 2009 Indictment of the defendants.
Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Federal State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force with special commendation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter A. Forand.