Sentencing for convicted fraudster Kenneth Frank has been set for Friday afternoon, September 27, after a Fort Lauderdale jury on Wednesday found the 56-year-old Pompano Beach man guilty of pretending to be a lawyer.
Frank, who has been in jail since March 2017, faces more than 11 and a half years in prison.
After a two-day trial in Broward Circuit Judge Barbara Duffy's courtroom, a jury late Wednesday convicted Frank on 16 felony counts that included multiple fraud charges and practicing law without a license.
Assistant State Attorneys Justin McCormack and Jessalynn Rubio, who handled the case, said Frank pretended to be an attorney and swindled victims out of between $20,000 and $50,000 over a period of three years from 2012 to 2015. He was arrested on March 8, 2017.
Frank was accused of charging victims for filing false documents in foreclosures, an eviction, and other real estate cases. Prosecutors also said Frank illegally filed false liens against several victims’ properties. Frank was found not guilty of two grand theft counts.
Broward State Attorney Michael Satz's Office says the "white-collar fraud case" highlighted how people can fall victim when those who are unqualified practice of law without a license. In one case, Frank advised a client to place a $1 million lien against a property, with Frank filing the paperwork. In a foreclosure case Frank oversaw, a retired woman lost her property.
A spokesperson from Satz's staff says the Frank case is a good reminder: "If you need to hire an attorney, make sure the person you hire is a licensed professional who is in good standing with the Florida Bar."
A New York native, Frank was convicted in that state of insurance fraud in 1996 and grand theft in 2003.
At trial, the defense argued Frank was acting as a businessman, and never identified himself as a lawyer. Victims in the case were aware Frank was not a lawyer, according to Assistant Public Defender David Wheeler, who said Frank worked with licensed attorneys before filing legal documents.
Wheeler and his team of Lindsay Lawrence and Lien Lafargue out of Public Defender Howard Finkelstein's office have asked the court to consider limiting any prison sentence Frank may face in favor of requiring him to pay restitution.