Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, February 1, 2013
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Fraud charge against Coleman dropped after restitution paid

One of the defendants named in the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's 24-page complaint against Cay Club ringleaders was the subject of a fraud investigation by a Monroe County prosecutor three years ago in a case that ultimately went nowhere.

In December 2009, the Monroe County State Attorney's Office -- then under the direction of former State Attorney Mark Kohl -- dropped fraud charges against Cristal Coleman, who formerly managed a vacation rental company.

Coleman, who is now married to Cay Clubs CEO Fred "Dave" Clark, made restitution to all 19 parties to whom she owed money when she closed her Cristal Clear Rentals in May 2009.

At that time, Cristal Clear owed $106,000 to customers and homeowner clients of the company's offices in Key West, Marathon and Islamorada.

State records show Coleman took over management of Cristal Clear Rentals from Clark and his Cay Clubs partner Dave Schwarz in December 2007, just as Cay Clubs was collapsing against the weight of the wilting real estate market.

Of the $106,000 she owed to clients and customers when she closed Cristal Clear, more than $14,000 was deposit money the company took in under the management of Clark and Schwarz, records from the case file show.

At the time of her arrest, prosecutors said that what made Coleman's act criminal, rather than a mere business failing, is that she had cleared out escrow accounts designed to safeguard deposits made by customers on rental units.

Records show Coleman finished making restitution to all but two of the 19 people she eventually paid back by Dec. 1, 2008, just seven weeks after her arrest.

Another of the complainants did not come forward until later. The year-long holdup revolved around the owner of one of Cristal Clear's rental clients. Coleman eventually paid the property owner $36,000 to clear the way for the state to drop the criminal case.

In addition to the fraud charge, prosecutors initially obtained a warrant accusing Coleman of failing to remit $39,000 in bed taxes to Monroe County, a second-degree felony, but never officially charged her with that crime.

Meanwhile, Clark was charged with drunken driving in December 2006 after a deputy stopped him on U.S. 1 in Plantation Key about 12:45 a.m., but that charge also was dropped after the stop was ruled unconstitutional.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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