After an exhaustive law enforcement effort, which resulted in a jury conviction of 67 year-old Lydia Cladek who at one time lived in an oceanfront mansion at 189 Sea Colony Parkway in St Augustine Beach, the time has come for her to be sentenced on fourteen counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud.
Cladek was convicted in January. Originally, it was expected that Cladek would receive her sentence within 90 days; finally, as of Thursday, the waiting will be over for her many victims. US District Court Judge Timothy J. Corrigan of the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville could sentence Cladek to a maximum penalty of 20 years on each of the fourteen counts.
The sentencing hearing is set for 9:30 a.m.
FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Jacksonville Field Office, James Casey, told Historic City News, “We hope that Ms. Cladek’s victims can take some comfort in the fact that she has been brought to justice.” For many of those victims, comfort may never come.
Cladek moved to St Augustine in 1994 then incorporated her finance company on January 2, 1998. At one point, Cladek had a staff of nearly 100 employees. Victims of Cladek’s Ponzi scheme had to be her friends or be referred by an existing investor. Cladek obtained many of her investors from her church and other social organizations.
Some believe what started as an honest business, evolved into an elaborate, high-dollar Ponzi scheme that bilked some investors out of their entire retirement accounts. The fraud grew to the point that Cladek was soliciting new investments simply to cover interest payments to her existing investors.
Instead of using money given to her from investors to capitalize high-interest automobile loans for borrowers with damaged credit histories, in reality, Cladek used the money to maintain her lavish real estate holdings; including three vacation homes in Captiva and Sanibel, Florida as well as a luxurious residence in St Augustine Beach.