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How Restitution Can Resolve Fraud Charges

organized-fraud_180x120An article in WPTV News shows the continuation of serious fraud crimes throughout the state of Florida. A property manager allegedly fooled two elderly members of condo boards into signing checks for “cash,” pulling more than $2 million dollars from the condos.

Grace Cushman Cromwell, 52, was arrested Thursday morning on charges of grand theft, organized scheme to defraud, and several other counts.

According to the article, Cromwell worked for a property management company that managed two condo associations in West Palm Beach, Park Place (369 South Lake Drive) and Melbourne House (227 Australian Avenue). There are bank records showing hundreds of checks, made out to cash, were deposited into personal bank accounts of Cromwell between January 2006 and February 2010.

Two members of the board were victims of the scheme. One was a 95-year-old woman with impaired eyesight. The other was an 85-year-old woman with fragmented memory. Several other checks were written directly to Cromwell and signed by the two elderly women.

Bank records also show payments to an American Express card that Cromwell allegedly used for personal use, including trips to Las Vegas and Dallas, food and clothing purchases, and veterinarian bills. The card was taken out in the name of one of the condos.

Cromwell was released on a $48,000 bond.

Fraud Defense

Fraud can be a very serious crime. Theft of over $100,000 is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, plus all the other fees you will end up paying to resolve your case. Generally a criminal defense lawyer will advise you to avoid serious consequences by paying restitution. The state of Florida weighs restitution more than incarceration. If your criminal defense lawyer can convince the prosecution to drop charges and receive restitution instead, you may be able to avoid conviction.

If you have been charged with fraud or grand theft, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. It’s the only smart thing to do.

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