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Former N. Miami mayor business partner pleads guilty

7/24/2014, 11:44 a.m.

Lucie Tondreau’s business partner has struck a plea deal to help put the suspended North Miami mayor in jail.

Last Wednesday, Karl Oreste pleaded guilty in federal court to running an $11 million mortgage fraud scheme with Tondreau and two others. As part of the scheme, Oreste admitted to luring listeners on Haitian-American radio to help them obtain fraudulent loans from eight banks, including Wachovia. The alleged conspirator pocketed the proceeds from purchases of more than 20 homes during the real estate boom in South Florida.

Two other defendants, Okechukwu Josiah Odunna, 49, a disbarred lawyer and Kelly Augustin, a former North Miami recruiter for Oreste’s mortgage firm, were also charged with wire fraud.

All four face up to 30 years in prison but Orestes may be given leniency because of his agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors. In exchange for “substantial assistance,” Oreste’s sentence may be reduced to three to five years.

FBI officials say Tondreau and Oreste co-hosted Creole language radio talk shows that advertised loan services through his mortgage firm, KMC Mortgage. The straw buyers had good credit and were given fake loan applications to buy homes. Oreste said in his plea agreement that listeners on the radio gave permission to use their names and credit to obtain loans. The homes the buyers purchased were never occupied.

The loan applications included “misrepresentations” of the borrowers income, assets and employment, according to the plea agreement.

Oreste statement also said he and Tondreau “vastly inflated” home sales prices to obtain higher loans from lenders. Tondreau is accused of using the funds to deposit into a “shell” company, LTO Investment Corp., to make mortgage payments, pay straw borrowers and herself, according to the statement.

Tondreau was in Las Vegas attending a convention when FBI agents came to her North Miami home to arrest her.