North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau is back in South Florida to face multiple federal charges over a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme alleged by federal officials.
According to the indictment, Tondreau allegedly worked with Karl Oreste, 56, O.J. Odunna, 49, and Kelly Augustin, 57, in a conspiracy to recruit and use false information to obtain loans on 20 properties between December 2005 and May 2008, during the housing bubble.
In addition, the government said Tondreau used some of the funds deposited into an investment corporation’s account to make payments on the “falsely and fraudulently obtained mortgages in order to maintain the loans, and to conceal and further the fraud. She also used a portion of the funds deposited into the investment corporation’s account for her own personal use and benefit.”
The foursome face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud.
Mayor Tondreau was in Las Vegas when the indictment was unsealed Monday and said she was surprised when the FBI came to her home with a warrant for her arrest.
NBC 6’s Willard Shepherd spoke to Tondreau on the phone Monday and she said, “I was informed that someone from the FBI had been to my home. I am coming back to find out what’s going on.”
Tondreau’s lawyer, Michael Davis, said his client is ready to get back to South Florida and wants to clear her name quickly.
“We were completely surprised by this,” Davis said. “The mayor had no idea this indictment was coming down. Of course she’s not guilty. We are going to investigate this. And see why are here and why is her name on this indictment.”
Davis’ firm said Mayor Tondreau is expected to voluntarily surrender to the FBI in the morning and will then be released on bond.
A native of Haiti, Tondreau was elected as mayor last June, beating out former mayor Kevin Burns in a runoff. Burns later filed a lawsuit, accusing Tondreau of not living in the city for at least a year before the election. It was later dismissed.