CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time since she was arrested, accused serial scammer Candace Clark had a chance to stop and speak to CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker.
But Clark chose to keep on walking.
Clark was back in court on Thursday, where she faces five felony charges connected to several scams.
Tucker was not necessarily surprised that Clark did not stop to talk to her, but she was disappointed. Tucker has been asking Clark for an interview for weeks.
They have been communicating by email, and at one point, Clark said she would consider speaking to Tucker if Tucker would agree to stop doing stories on her.
Tucker couldn’t make that promise.
But on Thursday, Tucker was hoping Clark would change her mind.
Clark was probably surprised to see our cameras outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Thursday, because she was early. It was only 10 a.m. and she didn’t have to be here until 11:30.
Courthouse rules restrict reporters and cameras to a roped-off area against the wall. So Tucker had to shout her questions and hope Clark would stop to talk.
Tucker: “Candace, don’t you want to say something to all of those people who are accusing you of ripping them off?”
Clark:: “You know you have evidence to say that you’re wrong.”
Instead of explaining further, Clark kept walking.
We also saw Clark waiting outside the courtroom Thursday. A judge was expected to read the charges against her formally, but an assistant state’s attorney asked for a continuance and court was over in less than a minute.
Appearing before the judge, Clark said nothing has she left.
Afterward, Tucker tried asking Clark a follow-up question.
Tucker: “You said before my stories were wrong? Why do you say they’re wrong?”
Clark’s Attorney: “No comment.”
Tucker: “Candace, I know you want to say something. This is killing you not saying anything.”
But say something she did not.
Accused #scammer #CandaceClark showed up EARLY to court. She rushed past our camera but when I asked if she had anything to say to her accusers, she responded “Your stories are wrong.” Waiting for her to go before the judge. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/4Wgneur263
— Dorothy Tucker (@dorothyTV2) February 13, 2020
A judge set Clark’s next court date for March 13.
Clark, 50, was arrested after a series of stories by Tucker that exposed scams that spanned 20 years. CBS 2 will be in court as Clark answers charges that could put her behind bars.
And now to a story about Clark that goes back more than 30 years.
“Right here, that’s her,” said a former high school classmate who didn’t want to be identified.
Back then, the accused scammer was known as Candace Dixon. She attended Percy Julian High School in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood.
The 1987 Catalyst Yearbook shows her pictured as part of Big Brothers and Sisters, a member of the modeling club, and the math team.
“I remember her going to class, walking to class, but I really didn’t socialize with her,” recalled the former classmate.
The classmate said decades ago, there were signs Candace might be headed down a different path.
“Well, she was Teen USA,” the classmate said. “That’s what was told to us by her.”
And, there’s a picture in the yearbook to prove it. Candace Dixon is seen wearing the crown and the sash of Miss Illinois. Only there’s one little problem.
We found the video of the 1987 Miss Teen USA pageant ceremony with all of the state winners… including Miss Illinois.
Surprise, surprise – it was not Candace Dixon. It was Danielle Reese from Riverwoods, Illinois.
This supposed beauty queen, now known as Candace Clark, faces five felony charges. One is for impersonating a state employee.
Hadera says Candace Clark was in living in her home rent-free. Clark had signed a lease, agreeing to pay $9,000 a month, but never paid a penny.
Clark pretended to be the new Director of Special Investigations for the state of Illinois. She produced six fake ceremonies where she hired more than 50 performers and never paid them the collective $21,000 she promised.
Clark also faces four theft charges, accused of scamming her way into two multi-million dollar homes and never paying a cent in rent.
Clark was eventually evicted but left owing both homeowners more than $80,000.
The people behind these felonies are just a fraction of those accusing Clark of fraud. Among the first, Staneeda Ware, who says Clark conned her out $3,000 20 years ago.
“She’s evil. She’s a monster,” said Ware.
Altogether, we identified 86 people and companies that have lost money to Clark. Add it up and the total comes to a whopping $469,000.
Court is not new to Clark. But in the past, she’s gotten nothing more than a slap on the wrist with a feather.
Between 2008 and 2010 Cark was arrested six times in Chicago and three other suburbs of Orland Park, Matteson, and Homewood. Back then, she faced charges of theft, writing bad checks and impersonating a police officer.
“It’s her high. It’s in her blood,” said Ware.
The most Clark ever got was probation. This time, Clark’s accusers are hoping the outcome is different, including the latest one – Stephanie Bennett, who says she lost her home after Clark conned her.
Bennett was just 27 years old when she bought a $225,000 house in suburban Midlothian in 2010. She had spent years saving the $10,000 down payment.
“I thought, look what I had accomplished,” said Bennett.
Five years later, Bennett was moving out of town, so she rented her home to Clark for $2,000 a month.
“It was awful,” said Bennett. “It was an awful experience.”
For eight months Clark lived rent-free. When she left, the place was a mess and Bennett was $16,000 in the hole.
“I couldn’t keep up with the payment of someone trashing my home and then the repairs that would need to be done,” Bennett said. “I had to go into foreclosure.”
She now echoes what others have said when asked about Clark’s future and the next place she should call home.
“She deserves to be behind bars for a while, a long while,” said Bennett.
The charges Clark now faces carry potential sentences ranging from one to 10 years in prison.