Da Vinci Real Estate 'Assistant' Back in Jail

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Two years ago, Denny Hughes, 40, formerly an assistant of Da Vinci Realty, was charged with ten counts of organized criminal real estate fraud and grand theft by the State of Florida. His oft-postponed trial is scheduled for October, but Hughes is in trouble again, deep, deep trouble.

Hughes is back in jail this week, his bond revoked, facing a new 12-count federal indictment, accused of feloniously orchestrating an ongoing unemployment fraud scheme that netted him more than $200,000.

Charged with wire fraud and identity theft, Hughes is now facing another 20 years in federal prison, on top of the pending state charges.

Formerly of Wilton Manors, Hughes is locked up on a no bond hold. He stands accused of identity theft and using those identities to illegally and fraudulently collect unemployment compensation.

According to the indictment, Clancy’s former employee created a corporation in 2008, Mortgage Relief America, (MRA) and then obtained personal information of 21 people, classifying them as employees.

While out on bond for the Wilton Manors real estate fraud, Hughes then stole their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. In order to obtain and build wage credits for the purported employees, he then filed fraudulent quarterly UCT-6 forms with the Florida Department of Revenue classifying them as employees of his firm, MRA.

Deceptively creating the appearance that these individuals had previously worked for MRA, Hughes then filed false unemployment claims using their names, seeking unemployment compensation benefits on their behalf – utilizing the personal identifying information he had illegally seized.

Once these fraudulent unemployment compensation applications had been submitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the indictment then charged Hughes with  “materially false, misleading, and fraudulent claims to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Unemployment Compensation Program over the internet and/or over the telephone, causing unemployment compensation funds from the Florida Department of Financial Services to be deposited directly into his own bank account via electronic funds transfers.”

In total, the defendant allegedly defrauded the State of Florida out of $206,000. The alleged criminal activity occurred while Hughes was out on bond for the state real estate charges Vince Clancy once defended him on.

The Broward County state attorney’s office has also been charged with a number of felonies in Broward County, including one count of organized fraud, six counts of second-degree grand theft and three counts of third degree grand theft.

Those charges are related to a 2009 arrest after the Fort Lauderdale police investigated a complaint against Hughes in which he was accused of stealing more than $50,000 from a former client. First reported by SFGN in 2011, Hughes was paid the monies as an escrow deposit for the sale of a home. But Hughes never showed up for the closing and after repeated attempts by the client to recoup his funds, a police complaint was filed.

When police conducted a supplemental investigation, discovering eight additional victims from Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, and Wilton Manors, the State of Florida then amended the charges to include an organized scheme to defraud. Some of the victims were from the LGBT community.

Hughes allegedly defrauded the nine victims out of a total sum of $234,780.

When his employer, Vince Clancy, was asked to comment upon his subsequent arrest last year, Clancy instead turned his sights on SFGN, warning the newspaper not to write another story about Hughes, or he would “underwrite a lawsuit against SFGN.” No such lawsuit was ever filed.

At the time, Clancy stated, “Hughes is employed at my company as an assistant and has shown himself to be very competent in his duties. I support him fully.”  Once a real estate broker with his own blog, Hughes has since had his license revoked by the Florida Association of Realtors.Joseph Elliot

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