CHICAGO (CBS) — Following a series of investigations by CBS 2, serial scammer Candace Clark was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday.
Prosecutors had recommended the five-year sentence, telling the court, Clark has “an unwavering commitment to defraud the community to obtain get what she wants.”
The prosecutor went through each one of Clark’s previous convictions dating back to 2007, for which she only received probation telling the judge she hasn’t yet learned her lesson and asking that the judge not give her probation this time around.
Before the sentence was handed down, Clark was given the chance to speak. She apologized for her actions and added, she wasn’t really aware of the damage she had caused.
She and her lawyer, both asked the judge for five more days to get her affairs in order.
The judge said no to that. He added that probation is “not appropriate in this matter. Not by a long shot.” He then sentenced her to 5 years in the state penitentiary. With 30 days already credited and with good behavior in prison, it’s likely she will only be behind bars for 2 years and 5 months.
After sentencing, one of Clark’s victim’s Jamie Newell said, “I mean, two-and-a-half years goes by in a blink, and then she’s gonna be right back out on the streets doing it all over again.”
The woman who first tipped us off about Clark, Darlene Simmons, whose case was not part of this felony conviction because her case was too old, also attended this sentencing. “She’s going to be incarcerated. Whoopee, but I feel that the time served is not going to be long enough,” she said. “I don’t think she thinks or feels that she’s done anything wrong. The attitude in court just now was like ‘Well, I, I, I’. What about the people that you screwed over? What about those of us who’s going through the hell that we’re going through right now?”
Simmons accused Clark of scamming her out of $73,000 of her 401k funds. She filed a civil case against Clark and got a $225,000 judgment.
In this criminal case, just days before Clark’s trial had been scheduled to begin earlier this month, Clark agreed to a plea deal on the six felony charges she had been facing.
Jury selection had been set to begin in Clark’s trial before the plea agreement. That trial originally had been set to begin in April but was postponed after both the judge and the prosecutor in the case came down with COVID-19.
More than two years ago, you first heard the name, Candace Clark. In January 2020, the CBS 2 Investigators brought you the twisted tale of her deceptions going back decades.
First, we told you about her elaborate productions during which she was sworn in as the Director of Special Investigations for the State of Illinois. In one of those, she was sworn in as a United Nations attaché. CBS 2 confirmed she never held either of those positions. The state position didn’t exist. The ceremonies were phony. The speakers and most of the audience were hired actors — Many of which told CBS 2 they never got paid.
Our second investigation revealed Clark’s decades-long pattern of living rent-free in houses throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Some were even multi-million-dollar Lincoln Park luxury homes. Several landlords told us stories of how Clark would talk her way into their homes by providing upfront checks that would bounce days later and then she would never pay rent. The landlords had to evict her to get her out. That process could take several months or even years. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) evicted Clark from Fiori Hadera’s Lincoln Park home the day before Clark got arrested.
Between 2008 and early 2020, the CBS 2 Investigators pieced together 24 cases where landlords accused Clark of skipping out on rent, owing them some $300,000 in lost rent and repairs for damage left behind.
Chicago Police arrested Clark shortly after our reports aired.
The most serious charges involve Clark using forged documents to rent those luxury homes in Lincoln Park and never paying any rent – more than $80,000.