Mistrial and Acquittal in $300M Vacation Rental Fraud Case

A judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of a businessman charged with operating a $300 million vacation rental fraud scheme.

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez made the ruling after jurors deadlocked on their fourth day of deliberations in the case of Fred Davis "Dave'' Clark Jr., the former president of now-defunct Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas. His wife, Cristal Clark, a top sales agent, was acquitted on all counts.

Prosecutor Jerrob Duffy said the government would try Dave Clark a second time, but no date has been set.

Prosecutors say the Clarks defrauded banks and about 1,400 individual investors through misleading marketing materials and outright falsehoods. The investors were promised big profits by purchasing run-down properties in the Florida Keys, Las Vegas and the Caribbean that were supposedly to be renovated into luxurious resorts.

The couple and others are accused of continuing the sham even after realizing as early as 2007 that the company could not meet its financial promises and would not be able to transform the decaying properties. They are charged with conspiracy, bank fraud and mail fraud charges that could put them both in prison for decades.

Dave Clark's defense contended that the developments were legitimate and only collapsed because of the financial recession, not due to any criminal wrongdoing. The attorneys for Cristal Clark, meanwhile, said she relied on her husband and his financial advisers and committed no crimes.

In June 2014, Dave Clark was extradited from Panama and Cristal Clark from Honduras to face the U.S. charges. Both have been jailed as flight risks ever since. After Cay Clubs failed, Dave Clark and two partners formed a Cayman Islands-based company that opened a string of pawn shops across the Caribbean known as CashWiz.

Some of the fraud charges against the Clarks stem from that business, with prosecutors contending the couple were illegally siphoning off for themselves cash the company was making buying and selling gold.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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