Orlando, FL (December 7, 2015) — Senior U.S. District Judge John Antoon, II has sentenced Mark Gardner (29, Osteen) to seven years and three months in federal prison for his role in the operation of a boiler room. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to his victims. Gardner pleaded guilty on August 17, 2015.
According to court documents, Gardner and his codefendant, Tammie Lynn Cline (33, Leominster, MA), operated a boiler room in Central Florida. Along with the telemarketers who worked at their call center, they would make 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) out of 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, the conspirators would sometimes claim 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 more than $1.2 million as a result of the scheme.
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.
Cline was also prosecuted for her role in the conspiracy. On October 30, 2015, she was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. She was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to her victims.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: US Attorney General Middle District of Florida