Historic City News visited a website titled “Lydia Cladek Inc.-The Real Story” where former friends, investors and employees express their anger, frustration, shock and disillusionment with St. Augustine’s Lydia Cladek — who today sits inside a cell in the Lee County jail.
“Where she’s sleeping now is a far cry from the mansion she lived in on the beach,” one local resident told Historic City News this morning. Embarrassed that he had invested in LCI, Cladek’s automobile finance business, he asked not to be identified.
The bankruptcy case involving Cladek is progressing; however, yesterday, federal marshals took Cladek into custody on criminal charges at her apartment in Ft. Myers. Cladek awaits her return to Jacksonville where she will answer charges contained in a fourteen-count indictment that was unsealed yesterday; charging Lydia I. Cladek with Wire and Mail Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire and Mail Fraud.
Historic City News reported when FBI agents and state regulators seized the company records from the St. Augustine Beach offices of Lydia Cladek, Inc. on Wednesday, March 31st.
A search warrant was also served at Lydia Cladek’s home, located at 189 Sea Colony Parkway. The home is assessed at $1,879,126.00. The unpaid 2009 tax bill was up to $35,372.14 as of that time.
Many of those who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars by loaning money to Cladek with guaranteed returns of 15% or more, have seen their personal fortunes disintegrate before their eyes since then.
On “The Real Story” website, many are accusing others who worked for Cladek of being “in cahoots” — although some of Cladek’s former employees say that they were taken in by Cladek’s apparent charm just as they were.
One anonymous poster wrote their opinion of Cladek’s operations:
“She was upside down, treasury-wise, well before 2006. She was running a Ponzi the whole time. The car note business was just the front to provide a narrative to trick people out of their money. LCI was NEVER legit. She had at her peak between 5000 to 6000 car notes at an average balance of about 6000 each. Half of these kinds of notes are non-performing, but let’s say they all were good. You cannot collateralize 55,000,000 with 35,000,000. Simple as that. And unending stream of people came in and gave her money. She never, ever refused money, even though there was no way to use it in a productive way, other than for her to buy luxury real estate and nice cars for her and her husband. Of course, there was the lavish giving to various charities, and insanely giant payments to “consultants” and “life coach” Bill Lemond and the like.”
Amy Filjones from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida told Historic City News that a planned detention hearing for Cladek has been postponed in Ft. Myers and that Cladek will be on her way to Jacksonville soon.
Cladek faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count alleged and faces a $3.5 million fine. The United States is also seeking a money judgment in the amount of $113, 235, 968.02, which represents the value of the proceeds of Cladek’s alleged criminal conduct.