JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We're learning more about the mysterious case of a once-successful Jacksonville businessman whose death has been disputed for years. Jose Lantigua who was not the founding owner, but bought two Circle K Furniture stores in Jacksonville was found alive outside Asheville, North Carolina Saturday morning during a traffic stop with his wife Daphne Simpson.
Lantigua's family says that he died. The 62-year-old's company mysteriously went under around the time he was reported dead in South America.
Now that Lantigua has been found alive it appears he'll have a lot of questions to answer.
He faces insurance fraud charges totaling $9 million from several companies. An attorney from American Enterprise Bank says Lantigua owes the bank more than $2 million.
"I was shocked. I'm still trying to process this. My head's spinning a bit. But given some of the allegations that have been thrown against the wall, there's a lot of my gut that's unsurprised by this," Said Charlie Jimerson, an attorney for American Enterprise Bank.
The Lantigua family attorney said his wife had Jose Lantigua's death certificate and ashes. But several other insurance companies argued that he was alive and and well, living in South America.
"There's a lot of financial ramifications, as Mr. Lantigua's scheme of deceit was pretty elaborate. I imagine there's a lot of creditors who are going to want to know where their money went," said Jimerson.
It's believed Lantigua went shopping around for insurance policies. In 2013 the former business owner said he had a terminal illness. He allegedly falsified insurance documents, and provided those documents to creditors, and promised collateral to get cash.
Jimerson says he hopes his client gets the money owed it.
"That saga is just beginning as well as the criminal fallout of Mr. Lantigua and his wife and perhaps others being involved in this scheme to defraud creditors and insurance companies," said Jimerson.
A hearing was scheduled for April 30. The family wanted the judge to dismiss allegations that Lantigua faked his own death. It is unclear if that hearing will still happen.
An attorney for the Lantigua family sent News4Jax this statement on the arrest.
"I was obviously very surprised to learn that Mr. Lantigua was not deceased and had been arrested in North Carolina. Neither I nor the firm would have become involved in the matter had there not been substantial evidence of his death. The firm had long taken the position that it would not continue with its representation if credible evidence existed that Mr. Lantigua was still alive. Given it has now been confirmed that he is in fact alive, we will be filing a Motion to Withdraw from our representation in the litigation as soon as possible."