Con man who posed as lawyer gets 43 years for financial scam
A con man who posed as an attorney, and promised dozens of victims huge settlements for their lawsuits and dismissals in their criminal cases, was convicted by a Harris County jury and sentenced to 43 years in prison, prosecutors said Friday.
Dwayne Gardner,55, would target African-American women using dating websites, impress them with a persona he had invented, and exploit their relationships with friends and family to get referrals of new victims, according to testimony during the three day trial, which concluded Thursday with his sentencing in the 174th District Court.
Gardner had approximately 40 victims in this area since 2012. He is believed to have pulled similar scams all along the Gulf Coast, including time he spent in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and elsewhere.
Jurors were told how Gardner, who was never licensed to practice law, would take as much money from as many people as possible before severing ties and moving on to a new set of victims.
“The people of Harris County trust attorneys with the most important decisions of their lives, and they deserve to know that those attorneys are licensed professionals who have their best interest at heart,” Assistant
District Attorney William Cowardin, of the Financial Crimes Division, said during his closing argument. “He promised them the moon.”
More than a dozen victims of Gardner’s confidence schemes testified, including two family members of a Harris County woman who passed away from cancer while awaiting a settlement from an employment discrimination lawsuit related to her diagnosis that Gardner had been promising her for months.
The case was investigated by Houston Police.