Real Estate Developer to Spend Next 6 Years in Prison

Allison Tussey —  December 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

Thomas Joseph O’Meara, III, 66, formerly of Carmel, California, now living in Palm Desert, California, a real estate developer, was sentenced to 78 months in prison for wire fraud and money laundering arising out of his golf course investment fraud scheme in which he defrauded more than 50 victims of more than $16 million.

As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, the defendant pled guilty on July 25, 2012, to wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. • 1343, and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. • 1957. O’Meara admitted in his plea agreement that he carried out an investment fraud scheme from 2004 to 2007 that involved 50 or more victims. O’Meara recruited individuals to invest more than $16 million in an 18-hole golf course and gated housing development in Fresno, Calif., that he named the Running Horse Golf and Country Club.  The defendant was indicted on July 22, 2010.

O’Meara retained professional golfer Jack Nicklaus’s firm, Nicklaus Design, to design the Running Horse golf course, and convinced the PGA Tour to publically schedule a PGA Tour event at the golf course. O’Meara admitted in the plea agreement that in an effort to recruit investors and secure money for the planned golf course, he lied about Nicklaus Design’s and the PGA Tour’s confidence in the development.

O’Meara also lied to investors about the progress and financial condition of the development. The Running Horse Development ultimately failed, investors lost millions, no PGA Tour golf event took place and the 450 Fresno-area acres on which the golf course and gated community were to have been located remain largely undeveloped. Evidence at sentencing showed that O’Meara‘s fraud caused some of his investors to lose their homes, their children’s college education funds, and their chance at retirement.

O’Meara‘s sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh, who ordered O’Meara remanded into custody immediately after sentencing. O’Meara was released on home detention with electronic monitoring, secured by a bond, after his arrest in Palm Desert on Aug. 3, 2010. Judge Koh also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release and ordered a hearing on restitution to take place on Feb. 6, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced the sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fazioli prosecuted the case with the assistance of Legal Assistants Kamille Singh and Laurie Worthen. The prosecution is the result of a multi-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. The United States Attorney’s Office recognizes the substantial and valuable assistance of the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office in this matter.

The announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

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Allison Tussey

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