NORTH MIAMI (CBSMiami) – “This is a very sad moment for the Haitian community,” said DJ Roschill Anderson on WLQY 1320 AM radio. News of North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau’s indictment is spreading fast. “This is the first Haitian American woman elected as a mayor in the city of North Miami.”
Tondreau along with Karl Oreste, 56, of Miramar, Marie Okechukwu Josiah “OJ” Odunna, 49, of Lauderdale Lakes, and Kelly Augustin, 57, of North Miami are accused in a federal mortgage fraud indictment. Investigators said between late 2005 and May of 2008 — Tondreau and the others got fraudulent mortgages on 20 properties. The FBI went to arrest her this morning, but learned she’s out of town.
Tondreau returned landed in South Florida late Monday evening.
According to Ben Kuehne, Tonreau’s attorney, she will voluntarily surrender herself first thing Tuesday morning and maintains she is “absolutely not guilty.”
“This came out of the blue,” said Tondreau’s attorney Michael Davis. “We had no idea this was coming and it’s unfortunate we weren’t given a heads up.”
Tondreau is in Las Vegas, a trip set up months ago. “This is a planned trip,” said North Miami City Spokeswoman Pam Solomon. “It’s actually a big conference we always participate in, it’s an economic development related, spearheaded to bring new business into the city.”
“Anytime an elected official in South Florida gets indicted it heightens the mistrust of the residents against the politicians,” said former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns. “Unfortunately it’s not unusual to hear these type of cases coming against elected officials.”
Scott Galvin is a North Miami City Commissioner. He and the mayor don’t see eye to eye on many issues. “It’s obviously embarrassing,” he said. “It’s been one scandal after the next.” Galvin’s afraid this latest investigation is going to take focus off city issues. “It’s going to be a distraction because obviously today, the phone has done nothing but ring with people asking questions about what’s going on, what does this mean.”
Tondreau is also facing a state investigation regarding election laws. Many in North Miami’s Haitian American community are hoping for the best. “This is serious,” said Anderson. “I hope the mayor come out good. I hope she come out good because guess what? It looks bad on all of us.”
Tondreau’s attorney said he is making plans for her to fly back from Las Vegas to voluntarily surrender to the FBI. Meanwhile, we’re waiting to hear if Governor Rick Scott will remove her from office. City officials are checking the charter to see if she is removed from the remainder of her two year term if someone will be appointed or if a special election will be called.