ORLANDO, FL United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Mark Gardner (28, Osteen) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering for his role in the operation of a boiler room. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the conspiracy count and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the money laundering count. Sentencing has been set for October 30, 2015.
Gardner and Tammie Lynn Cline (33, Leominster, MA) were indicted on January 28, 2015.
According to court documents, Gardner and Cline operated a boiler room in Central Florida. Along with the telemarketers who worked at their call center, they made unsolicited calls to owners of timeshare properties located throughout the United States. During those calls, they claimed that they worked for Universal Timeshare Sales Associates (UTSA) in Beaverton, Oregon, that UTSA had a purchaser who was interested in buying a timeshare, and that the timeshare owner just needed to pay a fee between $1,600 and $2,200 for the sale to proceed.
In order to convince timeshare owners to pay the fee, Gardner, Cline and their telemarketers sometimes claimed that an interested purchaser was present in the showroom ready to buy a timeshare, that a buyer had already deposited money into an escrow account for the sale, or that the sale would take place in about 90 days. Those representations were false. The timeshares were not sold as had been promised, and members of the conspiracy would deny or ignore requests for refunds, and would dispute chargebacks with the credit card companies.
In total, victims lost approximately $1.6 million due to the operation of the call center.
In May 2013, the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a civil action against Gardner, Cline, and others in federal court. In June 2014, the district court entered a permanent injunction against them related to certain telemarketing practices.
Tammie Lynn Cline previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Her sentencing hearing has been set for October 9, 2015.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.