A Florida man convicted for his part in a $29 million timeshare scam that took more than 60 local victims should have been listening closer to that old Jim Croce song, U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan said.
David Johnson originally was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond to remain free until his sentencing, but he failed to keep a mental health appointment, tried to pass off someone else's urine as his own for drug testing and then said obscene things on Facebook about the federal prosecutors in East St. Louis.
Reagan chided him using Croce's lyrics: "You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind."
Reagan told Johnson that despite what he wrote on Facebook about the feds, and the fact that even his defense attorney called prosecutors "junkyard dogs," that they still had recommended a sentence on the low end of the guideline. However, Reagan said he was not bound by their suggestion.
"I think those junk yard dogs are being rather fair," Reagan said.
Reagan is scheduled to deliver the sentence at 2:30 p.m. Friday, when Johnson faces from just under three years to a maximum of 25 years in federal prison. Johnson lost his freedom until the sentencing for his antics.
Defense attorney Richard Sindel tried to defend the Facebook posting, telling Reagan that Johnson was very emotional over his girlfriend's conviction as part of the conspiracy.
The indictment states that Johnson was a telemarketer for Creative Vacation Solutions (CVS)/Universal Marketing Solutions, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. The company claimed to have found buyers for timeshares and solicited fees of up to $7,000 from each consumer for fake closing costs and expenses.
Sales didn't happen, closings weren't scheduled. The company pocketed the money, with the telemarketers getting one-third of what they solicited, the indictment stated.
Johnson and his girlfriend were in a seven-minute video playing the role of a "happy couple who owned a timeshare unit that was sold by CVS." They claimed their timeshare sold in 60 days and they showed a $36,000 check in the video. "I couldn't be happier," Johnson says in the video.
Reagan offered his advice during a hearing Nov. 29 and put off the sentencing until he received more information about Johnson's bond violations. Johnson tested positive for drugs several times, and his attempt to swap urine samples was caught by a probation officer because the false sample was the wrong temperature.
Johnson, wearing a black suit coat, white shirt and blue jeans, sat motionless and stared straight ahead during the hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lewis was granted her request to keep Johnson in custody until sentencing on Friday.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.