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Associated Press

'Toto' Constant, ex-Haitian Strongman, Found Guilty of Fraud

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NEW YORK - A once-feared Haitian paramilitary leader has been convicted in a New York mortgage fraud scheme to cheat lenders out of $1.7 million.A Brooklyn jury found Emmanuel "Toto" Constant guilty on Friday of fraud and grand larceny. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 10.

Human rights groups say that in the early 1990s, Constant led a gang of thugs that terrorized and slaughtered slum-dwellers loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When Aristide returned to power in 1994, Constant slipped into the United States.

New York prosecutors said Constant helped hatch a scheme to buy dilapidated homes and resell them at inflated prices to so-called stray buyers who took out loans that were never repaid. His lawyer said he was framed.

© 2008 Associated Press

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