Attorney General Charlie Crist News Release
|February 8, 2006
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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Hernando Man Convicted for Selling Swamplands to Floridians
- Victims lost more than $300,000 -
TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced the conviction a Hernando County man, guilty of selling swampland to several Miami residents during the 1980's and 1990's. After a two-week trial, a Miami-Dade County jury returned its verdict yesterday convicting Dudley Cohn of one count of organized scheme to defraud, a first-degree felony.
In the late 1980s, Cohn, 74, sold vacant land to 13 individuals in an area known as the East Everglades. Cohn charged the victims $15,000 for the 1-1/4 acres lots that were later appraised by the federal government as being worth about one-tenth of that amount. The victims testified that Cohn misled them by claiming the land was suitable for building and that roads would be built to their property. Cohn did not disclose that the County had determined that no roads would be built and the land was unsuitable for development.
"This is similar to the old scam of selling swamplands to unsuspecting Floridians," said Crist. "These people wanted to build a home, but instead they were swindled out of dreams and money."
Cohn pressured buyers into making accelerated payments to him in order to collect the money before the federal government moved to acquire the property for much less than the original selling price. The victims kept paying on promissory notes for years and did not discover the fraud until 2001 when the National Park Service began acquiring the property to add it to the Everglades National Park. Victims reported a combined loss in excess of $300,000.
Sentencing for Cohn is set for April 10, 2006. He faces up to 30 years in prison and must make full restitution to his victims. The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution.
A copy of the criminal information is available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-6LTMA5/$file/Cohn_Information.pdf