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A former Broward County school teacher and the owner of a Fort Lauderdale boat sales business are among the people accused of fraudulently taking ownership of dozens of homes including multiple homes that belonged to dead people.
Those two suspects, arrested along with four others as part of the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Operation Tomb Raider, appeared in bond court Wednesday.
Catherine Lichtman, 56, the former teacher, and Mircho Murdjeff, 58, the boat sales business owner, were both ordered held on $180,000 bond each. They must also surrender their passports.
Officials say the group took ownership of 44 homes in Broward County, including 18 belonging to the estates of dead people, using Quit Claim Deeds and powers of attorney to take ownership.
The suspects would sell, rent or live in the homes. At times, they would sell the same home to more than one person and collect payments from both parties nearly simultaneously, BSO officials said.
In other cases, they used powers of attorney to get access to deceased homeowners’ bank accounts and social security checks and back-dated documents to make it appear as if victims gave permission, officials said. The suspects are facing charges including grand theft and identity theft.
The group’s alleged ringleader, 48-year-old Illya Tinker, also appeared in court Wednesday but had his bond hearing rescheduled. Also charged are Tinker’s wife, 44-year-old Patricia Tinker, his son, 23-year-old Darren Tinker, and 49-year-old Gillian Solomon.