Businessman Who Offered To Help Welfare Family, Pleads Guilty To Fraud
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A businessman who offered to ″adopt″ a welfare family and move them out of a Miami slum neighborhood pleaded guilty Thursday to a bank fraud charge, federal prosecutors said.
The generous offer, made in mid-July to a nationwide television audience on NBC’s ″Today Show,″ generated publicity for James N. Gisclair, who was initially described as a millionaire although later it was learned he was heavily in debt.
Gisclair, 43, owner of the Green Machine Landscaping Co. in Boca Raton, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of submitting a false statement, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. Sentencing was set for Nov. 3.
The criminal charge stems from a civil case in which Capitol Factors Inc., a subsidiary of Miami-based Capital Bank, won a judgment against Gisclair in Palm Beach Circuit Court.
Gisclair allegedly submitted to the bank about $1 million worth of false or irregular invoices for work that was never done or contracted for, according to court documents.
Among Gisclair’s philanthropic intentions were to give Anita Hunter a new house, a new car and a new life away from the drug-ridden Miami neighborhood dubbed ″The Hole.″
Ms. Hunter, a welfare mother of five, had called the offer nothing short of a miracle. Gisclair later apparently moved Ms. Hunter out, according to her neighbors, although her whereabouts are not known.