A former fugitive and his girlfriend were convicted Wednesday in a $15 million bank fraud conspiracy that involved complicated mortgage transactions, federal housing money and phony identities.
Darryl Burke, 50, and Vicki Garland, 50, were each convicted of four counts of bank and wire fraud and conspiracy. On a fifth count, Burke was convicted but Garland was found not guilty. Each faces up to 30 years in prison. Sentencing was set for April 18.
The jury deliberated for just under four hours before announcing its verdict Wednesday evening.
Prosecutors said Burke and Garland defrauded banks and conspired to buy and sell more than 20 South Florida properties between 2006 and last year, using fake names and businesses to misrepresent their assets to mortgage lenders.
With the proceeds of their illegal activity, Burke lived a lavish lifestyle, driving a Bentley, a Mercedes and a Range Rover. He paid thousands of dollars for courtside seats to Miami Heat games. He lived in a $1.2 million home in Delray Beach.
Some of the properties they owned were rented to low-income families whose rent was subsidized by the federal Section 8 program.
At the same time, investigators said they found evidence that he and Garland took advantage of federal programs to help the poor -- a food stamp card for Garland was in Burke's bedroom, along with Medicaid cards for other family members.
Defense lawyers tried to portray Burke and Garland's activities as a legitimate business venture, and argued that their proceeds were legally earned. Their later troubles with mortgage lenders were a result of the housing crash and a faltering economy, not fraud, said Humberto Dominguez, Burke's lawyer.
But prosecutors said Burke and Garland used fake names, phony income statements and doctored business records, sometimes letting their properties fall into foreclosure so they could get their loans modified or negotiate a short sale.
Burke falsely claimed to be a disabled veteran to avoid having to pay property taxes, prosecutor Jerrob Duffy told the jury. Burke also obtained a driver's license under the name David Middleton, and signed that name to a number of mortgage applications and financial documents, prosecutors said.
Wednesday's convictions were not Burke's first. He was accused of similar charges in 1992 and spent four years avoiding capture. After he pleaded guilty, he served 18 months in prison, ending in 1998. He served another nine months in 2001 for violating the terms of his probation.
A dozen distraught family members were in court Wednesday when the verdict was read. They declined to comment afterward.
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