ORLANDO, Fla. - The alleged mastermind of a double your money construction investment scheme may have been helped in her endeavors by her family members.
Tina Louise Mangiardi entered a plea of not guilty in federal court Wednesday, but on March 7 she signed a plea agreement with the US Attorney's office admitting to a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
Mangiardi, the former President of TLM Design and Construction, Inc., apparently convinced investors that she was doing projects for companies like Disney and Darden and needed bid-bond money to secure the work.
According to what is outlined in her plea agreement, and the companies, those jobs never existed.
Federal documents also state, "Mangiardi wrote large checks to herself and other family members totaling approximately $900,0000."
Those family members may have been her sister Glenda, brother-in-law Bruce, and her daughter who attends college in New York City.
Bruce Berray insisted that he was an innocent bystander when confronted by Local 6's Mike Holfeld outside a business where TLM Design had a permit pulled for a small construction project.
But alleged victims said he helped convince them into giving Tina money.
"I was kind of skeptical, but then I talked to Bruce and he backed it up," said David McKinney, who worked across the street from the construction site.
McKinney said Berray and Mangiardi were very friendly for several months while they were doing work on the Auto Zone on John Young Parkway in Orlando.
Eventually Mangiardi approached McKinney about investing money for a bid-bond project. For his $5,000 he was supposed to see an $11,000 return within a few days.
But at the same time, Mangiardi was making arrangements with federal authorities to sign a plea agreement admitting to money laundering charges.
McKinney, like dozens of other victims, has never fully recovered that money.
As a condition of Mangiardi's federal bond, issued Wednesday, she is not allowed to engage in any construction bid-bond work or have contact with any of her victims.
Dozens of people who said they fell for Mangiardi's scheme showed up at the federal courthouse Wednesday, many of them were dressed in red to show solidarity against the former model.
Christina Griggs met Mangiardi while waitressing at Citrus in downtown Orlando. She said bother Bruce Berry and his wife Glenda would come in the restaurant with Mangiardi as she conducted her business.
"They were always having steak dinners," said Griggs, who ended up convincing her mother to go in on a $10,000 investment with Mangiardi for a supposed bid-bond with Sunrail.
Another waitress, Jessie Perez, said Mangiardi and the Berrays would come into the Longhordn Steakhouse where she worked as well to meet with potential investors.
"She used to come in there with Bruce and Glenda and sit there and slide piles of money for people to see that," said Perez.
Perez' partner, Gina Travez, said she actually met with Mangiardi and the Berrays about potential IT construction work before becoming one of the scheme's targets.
Two other victims claimed they actually gave their investments directly to the Berrays.
A victim who did not want to be named provided a deposit slip to Local 6, which she claims indicates she deposited $10,000 into Glenda Berray's bank account in January.
That victim, just like dozens of others who have spoken out to Local 6, said she never got any of her money back.
However, Mangiardi's attorney claimed she had paid back many of her investors on their initial investment.
"Many of of them have already been paid, they just want the extra money," said Buck Blankner, while leaving the federal courthouse Wednesday.
Blankner argued the terms of Mangiardi's bond with the federal magistrate at her arraignment and ultimately she was allowed to remain free of federal custody on a $100,000.
Bruce Berry along with Mangiardi's niece, Darilyn Berray, cosigned the surety bond which they will have to pay back if she fails to show up for remaining court dates.
Shortly after her federal court appearance, she was arrested by the Orlando Police and ultimately booked into the Orange county jail for violated a county civil court judge's court order.
On February 27, Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Egan issued a writ of bodily attachment asking for Mangiardi to be taken into custody for violating a 2012 civil judgment where she was ordered to pay a victim more than $300,000.
Mangiardi had failed to pay that judgement and dozens of other judgements.
Mangiardi was forced to surrender her passport and will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet to make sure she does not travel outside the Middle District of Florida as part of her federal bond.
She is also not allowed to have any contact with her victims or engage in any construction bid bond projects.
Mangiardi's next court date will be determined after a status conference hearing on April 8.
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