In 2016, North Miami real estate broker Anis Blemur ran to replace State Sen. Gwen Margolis in Florida's 38th District. He did this despite an incredibly checkered background of financial mismanagement, including allegations that he defrauded multiple clients out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Before the election, New Times told the stories of several people who said they'd been victimized by Blemur, including Illinois doctor Jean Alexandre, an obstetrician who was swindled out of $70,000. Blemur, who was never favored to win, lost the Democratic primary to another scandal-ridden candidate, Daphne Campbell, and faded from the spotlight.
Now, the U.S. Attorney's Office has charged Blemur with four counts of wire fraud in connection with Alexandre's loss. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Reached by New Times,
"That's what he deserves," Alexandre said. "He's a crook."
According to the indictment, which was signed October 19 but unsealed only last week, Blemur agreed to purchase a $70,000 property in North Miami for a person identified as Victim 1. The details of the transaction match up with what happened to Alexandre, who confirms that he cooperated with FBI investigators after being contacted by agents over a year ago.
Alexandre says he contacted Blemur in October 2013 to help him buy an investment property that he could rent out for extra income. The two identified a house, and Alexandre wired $68,000 to Blemur to hold in an escrow account. But Blemur never bought the home. After getting a lawyer involved, Blemur started making payments to Alexandre but only repaid about $10,000. The federal indictment says Blemur used the rest of the money "for his own personal use and benefit" but does not specify what he purchased.
Alexandre eventually sued in Miami-Dade Circuit Court and in January, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodolfo Ruiz ordered Blemur to pay Alexandre the remaining $60,000, plus interest and attorneys' fees. Alexandre says he has yet to be paid.
Three more people have sued Blemur for taking their money since the New Times story was published in 2016. In January 2017, a woman named Marie Carol Berlus took Blemur to small claims court, saying he accepted $500 from her without providing promised services. A judge ordered Blemur to pay up, and Berlus' money was returned with interest in March 2018.
This past January, Blemur was hit with another lawsuit from Smith Joseph, who has been North Miami's mayor since 2014. Joseph says he appointed Blemur, a friend of a friend, to serve as his treasurer during a 2012 campaign run. According to Joseph, Blemur persuaded him to deposit $208,000 that Joseph had saved for the campaign into
In court filings, Blemur has disputed the mayor's account, saying the money stemmed from a joint partnership between the two to flip real estate. A judge denied Blemur's motion to dismiss and request for summary judgment; the case remains open.
And this past July, the Mabelle Investment Group, a real estate investment LLC, claimed Blemur had taken $25,000 of its money. In a civil lawsuit, the investors claimed they signed a contract in November 2015 with
Federal court records in the new criminal case show Blemur was released from custody last Wednesday after his wife posted $150,000 in surety bonds. The next day, he posted a video of himself feeding homeless people at Camillus House:
On Monday, Blemur pleaded not guilty to the charges of wire fraud. A tentative trial date has been scheduled for January.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.