- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - A former Illinois resident has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his lead role in swindling $4.8 million out of hundreds of people by falsely promising to sell their Mexican timeshares to corporate buyers.

Forty-four-year-old Gilbert Brett Freeman, a native of Aurora, Illinois, pleaded guilty in 2014 to five counts of wire fraud. Ten other people have also been charged in the scheme. Freeman’s sentencing in federal court in Chicago was announced Tuesday.

Prosecutors say he and others collected fictitious fees and taxes from timeshare owners, claiming the money was needed to complete Mexican real estate deals and would be reimbursed.

Instead, they say, Freeman spent the money on such luxuries as a penthouse apartment in an oceanside resort, Rolex watches, vacations and a Lamborghini rental.

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