September 24, 2020

Former Cay Clubs chief Dave Clark wants singular trials, Cristal Clark says she’s ‘indigent’


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1fJ2JH.AuSt.143By Kevin Wadlow From KeysInfoNet

The Resorts and Marinas and the have little in common when it comes to federal charges against former Florida Keys businessman Dave Clark, his attorney argued this week.

Motions in the mail-fraud case against Fred Davis “Dave” Clark, 56, and his wife Cristal Coleman Clark, 41, were considered Monday at a hearing in before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow.

Defense attorney Valentin Rodriguez argued that Dave Clark should not have to face a single trial over mail-fraud counts lodged in what prosecutors describe as a skimming scheme from a Cayman Islands corporation, along with more recent bank-fraud counts from the 2008 collapse of Cay Clubs, which federal prosecutors called a $300 million Ponzi scheme. Clark led the company and his wife was an executive there.

Clark also faces a count of obstructing a Securities and Exchange Commission civil investigation by failing to reveal active Cay Clubs-related bank accounts in Tavernier.

“To require [Clark] to defend himself at one time for all three offenses is clearly unfair,” Rodriguez said in his “motion to sever” filed for Monday’s hearing.

“Essentially, defendant Clark contends that if forced to proceed to trial on all counts, his right to present a ‘complete defense’ on the separate conspiracies will conflict with his constitutionally mandated right not to incriminate himself on each of the counts,” Rodriguez wrote.

Clark “may want to present testimony on one set of charges, and not another, due the distinct and unique nature of each of the conspiracy allegations,” the motion says.

Snow apparently will recommend to presiding U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez that the cases remain joined, according to a preliminary summary posted at the federal court’s documents website.

A message left with Rodriguez’s law office was not returned by press time Friday.

In other action at Monday’s hearing, was declared “indigent” and “financially unable to employ counsel.” The former Upper Keys businesswoman was assigned a federal public defender.

Cristal Clark’s attorney, Peter Feldman, was allowed to withdraw from her defense Monday. Feldman previously asked to drop the case when federal prosecutors added the bank-fraud charges from Cay Clubs to the Cayman Islands case filed in June. With Clark’s assets seized, the attorney said, Clark cannot afford his services for what could be a six-week trial.

Both Dave Clark and Cristal Clark remain in federal custody in Key West after being tagged as flight risks after they were arrested by U.S. marshals in Central America in June. Snow indicated she will support a defense motion to allow the couple to be moved to a federal holding facility in Miami “once they are no longer needed in Key West.”

Rodriguez indicated in his motion to sever that he will try to have the Cayman Islands case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, and the Cay Clubs counts dismissed on a statute-of-limitations rule. The SEC case over Cay Clubs was dropped because of time elapsed since the company’s failure.

The Clarks were charged in June with mail fraud, accused of skimming money from a Tavernier bank account that held proceeds from CMZ Group Ltd., a Cayman Islands firm that operated a chain of Caribbean pawn shops. The Clarks misled CMZ investors about company expenses and took money for their own use, a federal indictment charges.

The Cay Clubs indictment filed in September accuses the Clarks of bank fraud for using insider sales to artificially boost prices of vacation-rental units at Cay Clubs properties before the units were sold to outside investors. Guarantees of property renovations and guaranteed income were not honored.

Mortgage and personal losses in the Cay Clubs failure have been estimated at $300 million. Hundreds of people in the Keys lost their jobs as Cay Clubs collapsed.

Trial tentatively is scheduled for November but could be postponed.

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