Miami’s “fake sheikh” may plead guilty to millions in cons — or maybe not

Since he has spent much of his life pretending to be someone else — including a Saudi prince — Anthony Gignac has struggled with the idea of pleading guilty to charges in which he conned millions out of investors via Miami to London.

Last May, after two false starts, Gignac finally pleaded guilty to impersonating a foreign government official, stealing additional people’s identities along with also conspiring to commit wire fraud.

although then, after blaming his defense attorney for keeping him within the dark, Gignac made a move to withdraw his guilty plea in August just before being sentenced — along with also a federal judge in Miami let him do the item.

right now, the ever-vacillating Gignac — who once lived in an exclusive Fisher Island condo although calls the Miami Federal Detention Center home — has decided to plead guilty again, on Tuesday, before an April trial, according to court records. the item’s unclear what he’s going to plead to, because his fourth lawyer, public defender Ayana Harris, along with also the U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t say.

Whatever the 47-year-old, Colombian-born, Michigan-raised Gignac finally decides, the item won’t be dull. The “fake sheikh,” as some have dubbed him, incorporates a well-documented inability to make up his mind. In mid-May of last year, Gignac told U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga in which “I just want to get This kind of over for the victims along with also myself along with also move on. … I want to take a fair plea.”

although Altonaga postponed his plea because of a host of issues brought up by Gignac, who gained such a notorious profile after his arrest in late 2017 in which Vanity Fair featured him in an October takeout last year.

While he was facing several years in prison under his former plea deal, Gignac could right now be imprisoned for a longer time if he pleads guilty to newer charges of wire-fraud conspiracy, various fraud counts, impersonating a foreign diplomat, misuse of a passport, aggravated identity theft along with also possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

Gignac, who became a U.S. citizen after his adoption by a Michigan family, has lived in Miami on along with also off for years. He posed as a Saudi prince along with also traveled the globe swindling millions via investors, according to court records.

His former plea deal reached last May says in which Gignac along with also his partner created a fraudulent investment company, Marden Williams International, in 2015 for purportedly legitimate business opportunities around the entire world.

In sales pitches, Gignac along with also his band of co-conspirators represented in which he was a member of the Saudi Royal family along with also had exclusive business deals — including a private offering in a Saudi Arabian company, prosecutors say. One investment victim via Switzerland sank $5 million into in which deal.

Then in March 2017, Gignac targeted completely new prey in Miami. He again pretended to be a Saudi prince with $0 million in a bank account as he went shopping for an upscale hotel. He set his sights on super-rich real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer of Turnberry Associates, which owns the Aventura Mall along with also additional high-end properties such as the landmark Fontainebleau resort hotel. At first, Soffer fell for the con man’s pitch to buy an interest, even lavishing $50,000 in luxury gifts on the “sultan,” according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Gignac, using the alias “Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud,” pretended he wanted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars within the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, which had been renovated along with also expanded by Turnberry at a whopping $1 billion cost.

“Believing in which Gignac was royalty along with also a Saudi Arabian diplomat, with the means to purchase the hotel, the [developer] expressed interest within the deal,” according to a criminal complaint, which did not mention the hotel or Soffer by name.

although over the course of negotiations within the summer of 2017 — including a business meeting between Gignac along with also Soffer in Aspen — the billionaire developer wised up, had his security team check out Gignac along with also reported his suspicions to the feds in which he might be an impostor.

Soffer “became increasingly wary of Gignac,” the complaint said. One reason for the developer’s suspicions: Gignac happily wolfed down bacon along with also pork products during meals, which as a devout Muslim prince should have been against his religion, according to sources with knowledge of the case.

The original indictment charging Gignac along with also a business partner does not mention Turnberry Associates by name, only by the company initials “T.A.,” nor does the item identify Soffer. although several sources say Soffer is actually among Gignac’s 26 victims worldwide via whom he is actually accused of stealing a total of $8 million between 2015 along with also 2017.

Soffer only lost the $50,000 in which he spent on jewelry gifts for Gignac before he figured out he was probably a con artist, according to court documents along with also sources.

Despite prior brushes with the law, Gignac lived large in South Florida. With millions in stolen money, he bought up Ferraris, Rolls Royces, Rolex watches, Cartier jewelry along with also a two-bedroom condo on exclusive Fisher Island on Biscayne Bay.

Gignac showed off his extravagant lifestyle on an Instagram account dubbed “Prince Dubai,” careful to never show his face although occasionally posting photos of generic-looking Arab royalty.

The page also showed an affinity for his pet chihuahua, Foxy, who wore his own blinged-out collar, traveled in a leather bag along with also enjoyed hand-fed pasta.

“Nothing although the best for Foxy,” Gignac said in one post as he dangled spaghetti within the dog’s mouth.

,, 26 March 2019 | 7:01 am

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