A former Aurora man who ran several fraudulent Mexican real estate businesses was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for swindling timeshare owners.
Gilbert Frett Freeman, 44, pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud in 2014, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Freeman defrauded more than 1,400 timeshare owners — including some who lived in the Chicago area — by falsely promising that he would sell their Mexican timeshares to corporate buyers, prosecutors said. He collected payments from the owners for fictitious fees and taxes that he claimed were required for Mexican real estate deals, and promised they would be refunded at closing.However, he never sold the timeshares or reimbursed the owners.
Freeman is an Aurora native, but most recently lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, prosecutors said. He used the money to buy a penthouse apartment in an oceanfront resort, Rolex watches, vacations, and to rent a Lamborghini in Las Vegas for $1,399 a day, prosecutors said. He was arrested in Las Vegas in July 2012.
Ten others have been charged in the scheme, which began in 2008 and continued until 2015, prosecutors said. Four defendants have pleaded guilty, including Freeman, and the others are awaiting trial.
U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo sentenced Freeman to 20 years in prison Tuesday, according to the statement.