A jury took only ten minutes to convict former Delray Beach Commissioner, Charlotte Durante, of orchestrating a $1.8 million Ponzi scheme that targeted more than 80 investors, most of whom were Haitian.
Durante was convicted of two felony counts – one count of money laundering and one count of organized scheme to defraud greater than $50,000. When sentenced, Durante faces up to 60 years in prison.
Durante, a long-time realtor, was the first African-American woman to serve on the Delray Beach City Commission when she was elected in 1978.
According to prosecutors, Durante solicited 83 investors to supply down-payment funds that were supposed to be used by her real estate clients looking to buy houses. According to prosecutors, from October 2006 to September 2008, Durante allegedly promised these investors they would receive returns of 16 to 18 percent in four months.
Instead, the government claimed Durante used the money to pay personal expenses for herself and her daughter, to buy property for the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History, a business run by her daughter Lori Durante, and to pay earlier investors in Ponzi scheme fashion.