Federal jury convicts man in car rental scheme

BALTIMORE - A federal jury reached a verdict Monday in the case involving a Baltimore man accused of running a huge car rental scheme. ABC2 News investigator Joce Sterman first told you about Lamondes Williams after we uncovered an apartment scam he was running back in 2009. This time Williams is in even bigger trouble, facing prison time after a guilty verdict in federal court on charges of conspiracy and fraud.

The last time Lamondes Williams faced a court battle, it didn't end well for him. The Baltimore man was convicted in an apartment scheme back in 2005 and spent years in prison. Now it seems he'll be heading back again after being found guilty of 30 counts including conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud.

Former Secret Service agent turned Maryland Senate candidate Dan Bongino took the stand to testify as one of the lead investigators in this case. He says, "I don't know if he (Williams) believes he did anything wrong but it doesn't matter what he believes, what matters is people lost a whole lot of money, were taken advantage of. Now justice is done."

Justice was served, in part thanks to Bongino, who he spent six months interviewing dozens of victims and making undercover calls to piece together a huge scheme run by Williams. Bongino explains, "He was good at what he did and the volume of victims was just extraordinary and the fact he made these people believe this was a legitimate operation."

The operation, according to prosecutors, was a rent-to-own con game put together by Williams and operated day-to-day by co-conspirator Erica Brown of Laurel, who was convicted of wire and mail fraud.

The victims would pay him a fee to join a special program and then pay monthly for a car they got and hoped to eventually own. But Williams simply did short term car rentals and kept the cash, with victims later finding out there was a problem when they received a call from the rental agency after failing to return the car.

This scheme is familiar to the one we exposed in 2009. In that investigation, people told us Williams took cash to get them into luxury apartments. They say they paid a monthly fee and a year's worth of lease payments to Williams, but many got evicted because Williams never paid the rent. Click here to see the original story.

As with that case, this rental scheme continued as clients referred their friends and family, which Bongino says the victims found toughest to handle after the fact. He says, "That's what I found bothered most of them, not that they lost their money but they caused their friends to lose theirs."

And in the end, the feds say thousands of dollars were lost, along with the cars. All of that was handed over to a man with a criminal past, whose future is now taking the same path. Bongino says, "I think he just thought he was smarter than the other guy no matter what it cost you, so I'm hoping he turns over a new leaf, I really am, for our sake too."

Both Williams and Brown face as many as 20 years in federal prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for February 16, 2012.




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