Michelle Braun, 33, is suspected of running a Fort Lauderdale-based boiler-room operation that sold a total $402,000 in phony stock to 39 small, unsuspecting investors.
Braun was picked up at her downtown Delray Beach home Tuesday morning and charged with organized fraud, selling fraudulent and unregistered securities, and selling securities while not being a registered dealer. All charges are felonies.
According to Broward County jail records, Braun is out on $41,000 bond today. Neither she nor her new husband, who runs a clinic that specializesÂ in sexual dysfunctions, returned calls.
Investigators with the Florida Office of Financial Services said Braun’s arrest was a result of a look into the now-closed Sterling Capital Trust LLC. Two other suspects have been arrested, and arrest warrants are out for six more, including one in California.
â€‹Sterling telemarketers allegedly called hundreds of people from a nondescript office on SE 20th Street between March and July 2009, according to records. Their job was to convince investors to buy fake stock in a legitimate energy company, Agro Energy USA, at a discount price.
“We started getting complaints in 2010 because Sterling didn’t send the stock certificates, or a refund, to the folks who thought they bought it,” said Financial Services investigator Dimitri Bernadotte. “These were small, hard-working investors whose loss was great to them.”
The cash raised by Sterling allegedly went to paying outrageous salaries. Braun, said Bernadotte, took $80,000. She was believed to be the day-to-day manager of the operation.
The former Hollywood madam isn’t new to police action or the limelight.
A bicoastal commuter, Braun saw two of her Tinseltown-based escort services shut down in the mid-2000s. Her list of clients who paid hundreds of thousands for nights with Playboy models and porn stars allegedly included actors Charlie Sheen and Mickey Rourke (of course), retired baseball star Jose Canseco, and rocker Courtney Love. At the time, authorities in L.A. believed Braun filled the void left by the infamous Heidi Fleiss in the late 1990s.
Braun pleaded guilty to money laundering and transporting a woman over state lines for the purpose of prostitution. In a deal with the feds, she served just six months under house arrest. She’s still on probation.
Meanwhile, golfer Tiger Woods’ life was falling apart in November 2009 when a bevy of women claimed he bedded them while married to Swedish babe Elin Nordegren. That’s when Braun appeared, discussing how Woods had paid her $60,000 for six “dates” with her girls. Braun squawked about Woods being particularly fond of threesomes and watching girl-on-girl action.