Florida Keys

Disgraced resort chief could face a ‘lifetime’ sentence

Hundreds of Keys residents lost their jobs as Cay Clubs collapsed.
Hundreds of Keys residents lost their jobs as Cay Clubs collapsed.

The former chief of the failed Clubs Resorts and Marinas will learn his sentence in a 9:30 a.m. Monday hearing at the Key West federal courthouse. Maximum combined sentences for the counts carry a potential 200 years behind bars, prosecutors wrote in a filing last week.

A life sentence "would be reasonable" for convicted bank-fraud defendant Fred D. "Dave" Clark, former chief of the failed Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas, federal prosecutors say.

Clark "has repeatedly advanced his view that everyone is to blame for his conduct but himself," prosecutors wrote. The "defendant has exhibited a decades-long pattern of making up his own rules and avoiding responsibility for breaking the law. Until now."

The 11-page sentencing memo describes prison terms in other financial fraud cases, including the 50-year sentence imposed on disgraced Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein.

Clark was convicted Dec. 11 after a five-week retrial, after a jury could not reach a verdict in his first trial.

Federal authorities say Cay Clubs was a $300 million Ponzi scheme.

Cay Clubs was founded in 2004 in the Florida Keys and went on to offer condo-hotel units in 17 properties in the Keys, Clearwater and Las Vegas. Many of the 1,400 buyers say they were misled by promises of steady income from unit rentals and insider sales that artificially inflated unit prices. Cay Clubs collapsed in 2008.

Defense attorney Valentin Rodriguez argued for a significantly lower sentence, citing sentences of 10 to 25 years in other cases. Clark's age and charity work should be considered, he wrote.

"This is really a case about greed -- but it is the greed of the banks and their agents," Rodriguez wrote. "At worst, Clark relied on counsel and bankers to streamline loans, and nothing more."

The jury returned guilty verdicts on three bank-fraud charges and a count of obstructing a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation by withholding information.

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