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New lawsuit emerges in Lantigua fraud case

Jose Lantigua
Jose Lantigua

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new civil lawsuit says Jacksonville businessman Jose Lantigua had 11 million reasons to fake his own death in 2013. He was arrested earlier this year in North Carolina, where authorities said he had been living with his wife, Daphne Simpson.

Lantigua was the former Jacksonville businessman charged with faking his own death, stealing another man's identity, lying to a federal agent and being a fugitive for 16 months.

The new lawsuit, filed on behalf of Florida Capital Bank, claims that Lantigua took out a business loan of $1.6 million in 2008, but defaulted. Now the bank is trying to get its money back.

The nearly 130-page lawsuit, filed in Duval County a few weeks ago, lays out claims from the bank that Lantigua falsified financial documents in the process of obtaining a loan to purchase Circle K Furniture.

Lantigua defaulted on that loan when the business closed and the bank recouped about $800,000 in a foreclosure sale. The bank now claims it is owed over a half-million dollars.

The lawsuit contains pages of documents, including financial statements in which Lantigua stated he had nearly $6 million in a Fidelity account. The lawsuit says those statement are false. A statement the suit says is unaltered shows only $38,000 in that same account.

The lawsuit also says that, "Mr. Lantigua's liabilities outweighed his assets by more than $11,000,000 at the time of his purported death."

"It certainly looks like there was a great deal of mental thought that went into the scheduling of how they did the transfers," attorney Randy Reep said.

Reep, who is not associated with the case, said that the allegedly falsified documents and possibly fraudulent transactions are just adding to the evidence against Lantigua.

"At the end of the day, it's just piling on to a heavy duty poundage of problems. All of these are fraud issues and, from a sentencing standpoint, it just continues to put years and years on top of what will be, in all likelihood, the rest of Mr. Lantigua's lifetime," Reep said.

The lawsuit also claims that Lantigua fraudulently bought a home in Jacksonville Beach, paying $287,000 in a wire transfer for the home, where his daughter, Christina Lantigua, lives.

He also wrote a $12,000 check to Coggin Nissan for a car for his daughter. The lawsuit claims both were obtained fraudulently.

"I think it's very problematic for the defendant Ms. Christina Lantigua in this case, to protect her home when it certainly appears, maybe through no fault of hers, but it looks to be set up that there was a preferential transfer," Reed said.

In addition to the Jacksonville Beach home, another home in Sapphire, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where federal investigators said Lantigua had been hiding out after faking his death, is valued at over $1.5 million, according to online records.

The property was purchased in 2012 for $275,000. The lawsuit says that Florida Capital would incur "irreparable harm," if the Jacksonville Beach home isn't foreclosed on in favor of the bank.

"They have to show that there was a debt and there was a fraudulent transfer, a preferentially fraudulent transfer, in this case to his daughter. She would be unjustly enriched by Lantigua providing that to her," Reep said.

News4Jax tried to reach out to Christina Lantigua at her home Friday, but nobody answered the door. A message left for her attorney to comment on the lawsuit was not returned.

Lantigua is still in federal custody in Asheville, North Carolina, and his next scheduled hearing in federal court on charges of passport fraud and identity theft is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Last week, a motion to continue that hearing was filed by his attorney.

Simpson is still in jail in Duval County on false insurance claim charges. She is also facing federal charges in North Carolina for making false statements to investigators. No court date has been set for her federal charges.