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Woman must surrender home bought with fraud proceeds

By Associated Press
Published October 7, 2003

MIAMI - A $300,000 house and many of its gadgets should be taken to repay elderly investors who lost $117-million in an investment scam, a court ruled.

An attempt by Ronalee Orlick to hold onto the house under Florida's homestead law was rejected Friday by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judges previously ruled that Orlick's con artist father diverted more than $1.1-million to her from one of a network of companies tied to Financial Federated Title & Trust, which touted the supposed profits to be made from buying life insurance policies from the terminally ill.

Financial Federated of Fort Lauderdale and Ray Levy's American Benefits Services of Lake Worth were convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme, which paid old investors with fresh money from new ones until a 1999 federal indictment.

Levy, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison on a plea bargain, is Orlick's father. Orlick bought the Wellington house less than six weeks before the indictment.

Florida's homestead law normally protects a primary residence from seizure in bankruptcy, but not in the case of fraud.

The bankruptcy trustee trying to recover money from key figures running the fraud obtained a lien on the house plus a 61-inch television, stereo system, home computer system, grandfather clock, patio furniture and Rado watches.

Financial Federated's owner, Frederick C. Brandau, was sentenced to 55 years in prison after trial.

[Last modified October 7, 2003, 02:33:49]

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