• Judge grants Lake County man $1M bond in $44M fraud case


    ORLANDO, Fla. - Over a three-year period, federal authorities say, Pedro Benevides filed countless fake documents to make it look like he needed money for properties across central Florida.

    On Friday, Benevides was in federal court where a judge granted him a $1 million bond.

    "Could you talk to us about your husband? What do you think about him getting arrested?" Channel 9's Jeff Deal asked Benevides' wife.

    "I think you should probably get out of my face," she said.

    Outside the federal courthouse in Orlando, the wife of Pedro Benevides did not want to talk about the $44 million fraud case against him.

    Federal prosecutors said the businessman from Lake County defrauded eight banks out all that money by applying for loans, mortgages and other lines of credit, using false tax returns and other documents.

    Prosecutors said Benevides even took out loans against property across central Florida, under false pretenses.
    They said he refinanced a loan for a home in Windermere for $1.9 million in 2007.

    Records show that the home may have burned down in 2006 and insurance money was paid out.

    People who live nearby said nothing has been built on the property since the fire.

    Prosecutors said Benevides runs several shell businesses.

    It isn't the first time Benevides has been on Channel 9. In 2010, Action 9, the Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service investigated him after he was alleged to be running an international Ponzi scheme.

    A few years ago he was charged in a cocaine and money laundering case, but those charges were later dropped. 

    Benevides' attorney said he already has 50,000 pages of evidence to look through.

    "It's easy to make charges, harder to prove them," said defense attorney Charles Greene.

    Greene said he believes his client has paid much of the money back.

    If he gets the bond in order, he must get fitted with a GPS monitor as part of his conditions of release.

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    Judge grants Lake County man $1M bond in $44M fraud case