Miami minister, wife sentenced in case involving mortgage fraud, drugs

Miami HeraldMarch 31, 2010 

A Miami-Dade minister was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years and his wife to 4 1/2 years in prison for their convictions in a $6 million mortgage scheme fueled by drug money.

Garry and Yvonne Souffrant, both 33, who formerly lived with their three children in Davie, were sentenced in Miami federal court by U.S. District Judge Paul Huck.

The judge found that Garry Souffrant committed perjury during his trial testimony, and that he obstructed justice by tampering with grand jury witnesses in the case.

In November, the couple was convicted of conspiring to defraud major banks to buy 32 residential properties in Miami-Dade, Broward and other parts of Florida during the real estate boom. Garry Souffrant, former pastor of God First Ministries in Miami Gardens, was also convicted of conspiring to launder drug proceeds.

Souffrant, a former supervisor at Boca Raton Fire Rescue, was also accused of recruiting his brother into the conspiracy. But Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Gamaliel Souffrant, 44, of Pembroke Pines, was acquitted.

Dozens of relatives, friends and others wrote letters of support for Yvonne Souffrant but none for Garry Souffrant, according to court records.

He is already in custody. The judge gave Yvonne Souffrant two weeks to turn herself in, denying her request to postpone her surrender until the end of the school year. Relatives will take in the couple's young children.

In court papers, her lawyer, Philip Horowitz, said she should receive a prison sentence of two to three years. Garry Souffrant's attorney, Todd Malone, was seeking seven years.

According to federal authorities, the couple used their family business, Progressive Real Estate of Broward, to help local drug traffickers purchase homes and luxury automobiles, including a 2004 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The couple acted as straw buyers for the dealers, concealing the source of their tainted money to purchase the properties, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael "Pat" Sullivan said. They also diverted mortgage loans to fund the scheme and their personal expenses.

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