A Miami-Dade County Public Schools teacher spent a career building a $425,447 retirement nest egg. Licensed pilot Michael Atkins spent three years convincing her to loan it to him.
Now, Atkins will spend four years and three months in federal prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and identity theft.
Along with spending at least 85% of his five-year sentence behind bars, Atkins will be required to pay restitution of $425,447 that he stole from his victim, a Lauderdale Lakes resident.
According to the indictment of Atkins, his admission of guilt, state and county court records:
Atkins met his mark, identified in his admission as “D.W.” in 2012. He lived with her in the home she’d owned for more than 20 years. In July 2013, Atkins started All Points Aviation and Associates and listed D.W. as a manager when he registered the company with the State of Florida.
At some point, Atkins convinced D.W. to retire, cash out her retirement savings and loan it to him for All Points Aviation with the promise that he’d pay her back in two months. So, from August through October of 2015, at D.W.’s request, the Florida Retirement System Investment Plan mailed her three checks. The first two checks, $42,531 and $65,000, got deposited in All Points’ account.
The third check, for $317,916, needed D.W.’s endorsement, which Atkins provided without her knowledge.
Atkins disappeared in July 2016. D.W. didn’t hear from him again.
She knows where Atkins is now — the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami — but her money is as in the past as the years it took to earn it.
Bank records “show that the majority of the victim’s funds were not used for defendant’s business as was represented and were instead used for defendant’s personal expenses,” Atkins admission says.