Update, July 12, 2019: Following reporting by New Times, Anis Blemur has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. Investigators say he stole more than $1.6 million from victims in the Haitian community, including Dr. Jean Alexandre.
A few years ago, in preparation for retirement, Illinois ob-gyn Jean Alexandre began looking for an investment property in Florida he could rent out to supplement his monthly income.
In October 2013, he sealed the deal, wiring $68,000 cash and writing a check for an additional $2,000 to North Miami real-estate broker and accountant Anis Blemur, whom he'd met through a friend. With Alexandre's cash in hand, Blemur was to purchase a North Miami duplex and assume responsibilities as landlord of the property, which he expected to be able to rent out for at least $2,000 a month.
But Alexandre, a former Haitian ambassador to the United Nations
, says that flat-out never happened. Blemur never bought the property. Blemur never returned the $70,000. And the next year, when Blemur announced his candidacy for Florida Senate District 36, Alexandre says, the accountant boldly asked if he could use the money to fund his campaign.
"The guy is a fraud and a crook," Alexandre tells New Times
. "He deserves to be in jail."
Blemur lost that election. And two years later, Alexandre says he still hasn't recouped his money. He's incensed that Blemur is back on the campaign trail vying for a seat in the newly drawn District 38.
In campaign materials, Blemur characterizes himself as an entrepreneur, economist, and financial coach. But court records and documents provided by Alexandre paint a picture of a man in deep financial straits who has repeatedly taken advantage of trusting real-estate clients.
At least three others have made accusations against Blemur similar to Alexandre's, saying in court filings they gave him money to buy properties he never actually purchased and never again saw their money. Blemur has also had trouble paying rent at his office building in North Miami — court records show the landlord has tried to evict him four times for late payments, as recently as June.
Reached at his office in North Miami, Blemur says he has caught up on rent, which his landlord confirmed to New Times
. He characterizes the accusations from Alexandre and the other three as bad business deals and says he has made promises for repayment to everyone he's indebted to.
"I'm making payments or making arrangements to make payments," he says. "I don't hurt people. I would have been in jail already if I was."
Alexandre provided New Times
with copies of emails he exchanged with Blemur, as well as a wire transfer receipt for $68,000 and a notarized settlement agreement the two men reached in November 2014. The agreement, signed by both Alexandre and Blemur, confirms that Blemur was once in possession of the $70,000 and that he had indeed agreed to make a series of payments, with the expectation that the full sum, plus interest, would be returned by April 2015. Alexandre says Blemur repaid only about $10,000 before he stopped making payments.
Recently, Alexandre hired Miami attorney Lance Joseph to draft another payment plan. Joseph says Blemur "has been cooperative" in terms of outlining a new arrangement but has not yet made any new payments.
Although he signed a legal document that describes what happened as "an apparent escrow violation," Blemur denies his deal with Alexandre was for purchase of a home, saying Alexandre gave him the money as a loan for his accounting business. (In response, Alexandre calls Blemur "a liar.")
But court records from other cases lend credence to the doctor's account. In June, Osline Pascal filed suit against Blemur, saying she gave him $15,000 for purchase of an investment property. Yet he never bought the house and "spent the money on personal items," she claims.
Like Alexandre, she reached an agreement that Blemur would repay her in weekly installments. But Pascal says she has not received the full amount they agreed upon. (Blemur has not filed a response in court and tells New Times
he has not seen the lawsuit.)
In a 2015 Broward case, Blemur was sued by former customer Marie Santil, who said she gave him $60,000 to buy a home in Miramar. When Blemur reneged on the deal, Santil said, he pressured her into making an agreement to funnel the money into an "investment" arrangement in which she would be repaid with interest. But her lawsuit says she later realized the agreement she signed was sketchy.
"There are several problems with the investment document of which Marie was unaware, and she was not sufficiently sophisticated in such matters to realize that Blemur was continuing his criminal misconduct and practices and he should not have been trusted to create the document he was asking Marie to sign," her complaint says.
As in the other cases, Santil said, Blemur failed to keep up his end of the bargain. On one occasion, he wrote her a check for $3,400 that bounced — which cost her $12 in bank fees. The case was closed in July because it was inactive for ten months, according to Broward County records.
In an earlier case, from 2009, a third woman, Murget Excellent, sued Blemur after she said she gave him money to purchase a home. The courts sided with her, ordering Blemur to pay her a total of $37,345. But last Friday, Excellent filed an affidavit saying that seven years later, Blemur has failed to come up with the money.
"He began paying me until the debt went from $50,000 to $45,000; now Anis choose not to pay anymore," she wrote. A court hearing has been scheduled for later this month.
Asked about Excellent's case, Blemur says, "That was a long time ago." He disputes that the money was for the purchase of a home, saying Excellent invested in a radio station he briefly owned that went bellyup.
In yet another case, Blemur is still duking it out with a Broward couple who worked with him to purchase a $200,000 Hollywood home. According to the lawsuit, Tamara and Wesley Jean gave Blemur $93,000 to buy the home, with the understanding he would pay for the rest with cash and then deed the property to them and collect their mortgage payments. But the complaint says that unbeknownst to them, Blemur himself took out a mortgage on the home for a different price than agreed upon and, instead of transferring the deed to the Jeans, tried to get them to sign a lease for the property.
Last summer, the case went to trial, where a jury found Blemur "conspired to defraud" the plaintiffs and violated Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. A judge ordered him to pay $35,843 to the Jeans. (Blemur has appealed that decision, and the case is ongoing.)
So far this year, Blemur's campaign has collected $39,225 in contributions — $25,420 of which he loaned to his own campaign, according to election records. Yet in interviews with New Times
, Blemur says he hasn't made full payments to the people he owes money because he is short on cash.
"I don't have quick money right now because things are hard," he says.
He calls the accusations "sad" and politically motivated.
"I don't think it’s fair to me as someone with [real-estate and business] licenses," Blemur says. "There's nothing wrong with running for office with debt... I'm fixing things. I'm making things happen."