Robert ‘Bear’ Taylor, 46, real estate agent, Charleston, Illinois was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with two counts of wire fraud in connection with allegations that he diverted the proceeds of a sale of a client’s real estate and that he obtained a loan from the same client to be secured by property that he did not own. Taylor was a licensed real estate agent doing business as Century 21 Bear Real Estate in Charleston, Illinois.
The indictment alleges that Taylor used interstate wires to defraud a former client of more than $500,000. According to the indictment, in April or May of 2003, Taylor entered into a listing agreement to sell the property located at 15009 East County Road, 420 North, Charleston, Illinois listed at $199,000. The client moved to Germany and executed a power of attorney allowing Taylor to handle the sale. In August of 2003, a contract of sale for $185,000 was entered into with a buyer whereby they also agreed to purchase certain personal property of the seller for $10,000 and pay $1,000 per month rent to live in the East County Road property until the October closing. Taylor is alleged to have deposited the $10,000 payment and the proceeds check of $170,519.08 to his personal account (rather than his trust account.) Taylor then allegedly represented to his client that the closing had not yet occurred because the buyers had been unable to sell their other home and that the buyers would like to remain in the property and pay rent until closing. The seller agreed. Over the next 90 days, according to the indictment, Taylor spent almost all of the sales proceeds and continued to forward ‘rent’ to his client.
The indictment also alleges that, in January of 2005, Taylor fraudulently obtained a $330,000 loan from the same client via an overseas wire transfer by promising to give the client a mortgage on certain property (1515-1517 University Drive, Charleston, Illinois). He falsely represented to the client that someone had offered to purchase the property for $385,000 when, in fact, the purchase offer was only for $214,000 and had long since expired. In fact, the indictment alleges Taylor did not own the property and could not mortgage it. The indictment also alleges that Taylor attempted to avoid detection of his scheme by falsely telling his client via an international e-mail that he had invested the proceeds of the sale of the client?s home in other real estate, when, in fact, he had spent the money on himself.
Taylor will be issued a summons to appear in federal court in Urbana, Illinois for arraignment at a later date. If convicted, each count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.