North Carolina Man Admits Condo Investment Scam

Allison Tussey —  June 15, 2010 — Leave a comment

Stevie Perkale Lee, 38, Weddington, North Carolina, has entered a plea of guilty to two federal criminal counts filed in a criminal bill of information in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, North Carolina. The counts against Lee charge that he, as President of “VP Companies USA,” and “Arcadian Residence & Resort,” fraudulently solicited over $1.5 million from investors and buyers for a luxury condominium project, known as “Arcadian Residence & Resort(Arcadian) to be built in Concord, North Carolina, next to the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and that he failed to file tax returns for the years in which he collected the investor funds.

According to the criminal information, Stevie Perkale Lee, also known as Steven P. Lee, marketed Arcadian as a luxury condominium project in Concord, North Carolina, to be built next to the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. It was to have been a 13-story luxury residence high rise with 151 units, including penthouse units and corporate suites, located on Speedway Boulevard and John Q. Hammond Drive on a 4+ acre site.

From about June 2007 through about January 2009, from his principal offices of VP Companies USA and Arcadian, located in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte, North Carolina, Lee fraudulently solicited over $1.5 million from investors and buyers for the project, according to official court documents. Lee is alleged to have made false and fraudulent representations by omitting material facts and telling deceptive half-truths regarding the project in his attempts to solicit funds. Court documents state that Lee used investors’ money to fund his own lavish lifestyle, which included luxury cars, renting a luxury home, and the purchase of watches, diamonds, rings, and Louis Vuitton bags. Lee never developed Arcadian, according to court documents, and his investors lost their money. In fact, according to the allegations in the bill of information, some of Lee’s investors/victims are currently facing bankruptcy.

The federal bill of information includes a notice of forfeiture and finding of probable cause which gives notice that the defendant must forfeit to the United States all of the property involved in the offenses charged, and all property traceable to such offenses, including but not limited to the sum of approximately $1,500,000 in cash proceeds. Also in the notice of forfeiture, the government alleges that the following property is subject to forfeiture on one or more of the grounds: One 2008 Toyota Rav 4, One Movada watch, Various pieces of jewelry, Six Louis Vuitton bags

Lee faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine as to the federal criminal count alleging securities fraud. In addition he faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine as to the criminal count alleging tax evasion. Any sentence received upon conviction will be influenced by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which the Court consults in order to determine each defendant’s actual sentence.

U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making the announcement by Roxanne Vaneekhoven, Cabarrus County District Attorney, Owen D. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of FBI operations in North Carolina, and Jeannine Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

This district will not tolerate investor fraud-especially in the name of real estate development during this financial crisis. Those tempted to steal from investors should be warned: you will be caught and punished. The FBI and IRS, as well as our local law enforcement partners, deserve our thanks,” said U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina.

District Attorney Roxanne Vaneekhoven of Cabarrus County said, “I am pleased this fraudulent real estate scheme that was brought to my Prosecutorial Investigator Heather Burkard’s attention, was so diligently pursued. I would like to thank Special Agent Dan Lucero with the FBI’s White Collar Crime Unit, and all of the other agencies that worked on this case, for doing such a thorough investigation. As a result of everyone’s diligence and hard work, we are now able to bring this financial predator to justice and bring justice to the victims of his crimes.”

IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett stated, “IRSCI will aggressively pursue tax fraud wherever it is identified. IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to provide its financial expertise to investigations of these schemes to defraud the American government and its taxpayers.”

The case is being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt W. Meyers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte. A date has not yet been set for sentencing.

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Allison Tussey

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