Cladek may be released by next week

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Historic City News has learned from the office of United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill that 69 year-old Lydia Cladek of St. Augustine Beach may be on her way home after a judge granted a defense motion Wednesday to modify conditions of Cladek’s pre-trial release.

A bond hearing is scheduled at the Federal Courthouse in Jacksonville at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Morris,

The Department of Justice and the FBI announced November 23, 2010, that Cladek had been indicted on 14 counts of wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

She was arrested that day at her apartment in Fort Myers. She was held in federal custody there until she was brought to Jacksonville for her December 9th arraignment.

According to the indictment, Cladek was the president and sole shareholder of an investment company involved in the purchase of high-interest retail installment contracts secured by motor vehicles. It is alleged that Cladek encouraged investors to loan money to her company to buy the high-interest notes at a discount. Cladek was supposedly guaranteeing investors a return of 15 percent to 20 percent on their money. Cladek is accused of using investors’ money to support her lavish lifestyle, to acquire luxury property, and to conceal her fraudulent use of the funds by making small payments to repay other investors.

On December 16, 2010, Historic City News reported that Judge Morris decided to release Cladek on a $5 million unsecured bond and a few conditions — to the surprise and chagrin of many of her more than 1,000 investors who said they were bilked out of $113 million in a Ponzi scheme masterminded by Cladek.

Upon release of the news, phones were ringing, e-mails were blasting and bloggers were raving over the decision; by the following day, the deal was off when the 73 year-old widow who was to act as Cladek’s “custodian” backed out — reportedly under duress from Cladek investors and news reporters asking for explanations.

Although conditions approved Wednesday are not being published, during the first go-around, in addition to the signature bond and custodian, Cladek agreed to the following conditions during the time she was under bond:

-wear an ankle monitor 24 hours a day
-not travel outside St. Johns County
-not allowed to apply for a new passport
-not allowed to do any investment work
-have no contact with creditors, debtors, current or previous investors or employees

Cladek faces 20 years in federal prison on each count and a $3.5 million fine; however, her release is expected — following an examination by the U.S. Pretrial Services office and assignment to a confidential custodian.

Cladek’s trial is scheduled to begin on January 27, 2012 in Jacksonville.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News archive photograph

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