Archives For Florida

Gary Hughes, 36, San Diego, California, pled guilty to one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy involving bank fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment.

According to the plea agreement and court proceedings, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners of The Arbors then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental to condominium units. Continue Reading…

Gary Blankenship, 45, St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. He pleaded guilty on February 4, 2016.

According to his plea agreement, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartments to condominium units.

Blankenship’s co-conspirator, Brendan Bolger, aided the developers in the sale of numerous condominium units through his company, Capital Management Guarantee, LLC. In order to induce buyers to purchase units, Bolger created an addendum to the purchase contract offering buyers various incentives, such as rental supplements, money to defray maintenance costs, and a design credit to upgrade the units’ amenities. When the buyers cancelled the design credit within 10 days of signing the addendum, Bolger paid them a kickback from his company’s bank account for the amount of the design credit. Blankenship’s role in the conspiracy as a realtor consisted of marketing The Arbors units by promising buyers undisclosed incentives. In this manner, Bolger, Blankenship and other co-conspirators failed to disclose material facts to buyers’ mortgage lenders about the financing of the condominium sales.

Blankenship was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay Hoffer.

Stevie McDonald, 41, Winter Haven, Florida was indicted and charged with multiple counts of bank fraud and a conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the indictment, McDonald participated in a conspiracy to defraud federally insured financial institutions in connection with multiple residential mortgage loans made by JP Morgan Chase Bank and Washington Mutual Bank. Along with others, McDonald was involved in the submission of false and fraudulent information to the lenders, which induced the lenders to make the mortgage loans. Subsequently, the recipients of these loans defaulted on those mortgages and the banks sustained losses of approximately $509,221.

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count. The indictment also notifies the defendant that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of $509,221, the approximate loss amount that the financial institutions sustained in this case.

The unsealing of the indictment was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Angel Garcia-Oliver, 49, Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.  He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Garcia-Oliver was the principal of Garcia-Oliver & Mainieri, P.A., a law firm located in Coral Gables, Florida.  Tribute Residential, LLC, which was owned by a co-conspirator, owned and sold multiple communities.  Garcia-Oliver, or employees working at his direction, served as settlement agents and conducted dozens of real estate closings for condominium units owned by Tribute, including Cypress Pointe in Orlando, Florida and the Villas at Lakeside in Oviedo, Florida. Continue Reading…

Ravindranauth “Ravi” Roopnarine, 56, Guyana, was convicted following a federal jury trial on charges stemming from his leadership and participation in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme.  Roopnarine was charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.  On Friday, March 11, 2016, a twelve-person jury convicted Roopnarine on all three counts, after a four day trial presided over by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez.

According to publicly filed documents and statements made in court, on December 9, 2010, a Fort Pierce, Florida federal grand jury indicted Roopnarine, Gergawattie “Kamla” Seecharan, Bhaardwaj “Deo” Seecharan and Linda Rovetto for their participation in a mortgage fraud scheme.  Kamla Seecharan, Deo Seecharan and Rovetto previously pled guilty and were sentenced.  Roopnarine in mid-2015 waived extradition and returned from Trinidad and Tobago to the Southern District of Florida.  Continue Reading…

Fred Davis Clark, Jr., a/k/a Dave Clark, 57, formerly of Monroe County, Florida, the former Cay Clubs Chief Executive Officer was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his participation in a $300 million dollar vacation rental fraud scheme.  Clark was convicted on December 11, 2015 after a five-week trial, of three counts of bank fraud, and three counts of making a false statement to a financial institution, all in connection with a $300 million dollar fraud scheme involving sales of vacation rental units.  The scheme involved sales at Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas (Cay Clubs), to approximately 1,400 investors in the Florida Keys and elsewhere.  Clark also was convicted of obstruction of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in connection with the SEC’s efforts to investigate his conduct related to Cay Clubs.  Clark was sentenced to 480 months’ imprisonment and the Court entered forfeiture money judgments against Clark, including in the amount of $303,800,000 for the bank fraud and $3,300,000 for the SEC obstruction.  In addition, the Court ordered forfeiture of specific assets, located overseas, totaling approximately $2.6 million dollars.

Clark filed an appeal on February 25, 2016. Continue Reading…

Frank Enrique Lleras, 30, Charlotte, North Carolina, the co-founder of a Charlotte-area property investment firm, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud, in connection with an investment fraud scheme involving real estate properties.

According to filed court documents and the plea hearing, Lleras was the co-founder, executive vice president and chief investment officer of Optimum Property Investments, LLC (Optimum), an investment company headquartered in Charlotte with purported offices in Miami, Florida, Santiago, Dominican Republic and Barranquilla, Colombia. Lleras admitted in court that from about December 2012 and through 2015, he executed an investment fraud scheme through Optimum, which defrauded at least 20 victims of nearly $3,000,000. According to court records, Lleras induced his victim investors by promoting Optimum as a real estate investment company that made money by purchasing distressed and/or foreclosed real estate properties in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere, and then reselling and and/or leasing those properties. Continue Reading…

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that will temporarily require certain U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind companies used to pay “all cash” for high-end residential real estate in the Borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, and Miami-Dade County, Florida. FinCEN is concerned that all-cash purchases – i.e., those without bank financing – may be conducted by individuals attempting to hide their assets and identity by purchasing residential properties through limited liability companies or other opaque structures. To enhance availability of information pertinent to mitigating this potential money laundering vulnerability, FinCEN will require certain title insurance companies to identify and report the true “beneficial owner” behind a legal entity involved in certain high-end residential real estate transactions in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. Continue Reading…

Jason Pond, 38, Spring Hill, Florida, pled guilty to making a false statement in an application to obtain a HUD loan.

According to the plea agreement, on September 28, 2010, Pond purchased his home in Spring Hill, Florida, for $110,000.  Along with his wife, they received a loan of $49,650 from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, as a second mortgage on the home.  This loan program would not have required Pond to repay the loan if he lived in the home for 15 years.

In an application to participate in the program, Pond provided false and incomplete information related to his debts, assets, employment, income, and tax returns. One example of a debt that he failed to disclose was a loan that he had received from another government program to obtain a different home. He also did not disclose income he earned from his DJ business, or that he owned certain assets, including two cars and a boat.

Pond faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and investigated by the HUD Office of Inspector General and the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam M. Saltzman.

 

Joseph L. Pasquale, 39, Fort Myers, Florida was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Pasquale worked as a real estate sales associate for a brokerage firm based in Cape Coral, Florida. Between October 2007 and March 2008, he was involved in the negotiation and sale of four condominium units at the Arbors of Carrollwood, to clients in California and Massachusetts. Pasquale engaged in a conspiracy to conceal sales incentives from mortgage lenders, which these clients received from the seller, along with private loans that Pasquale made to the buyer-clients enabling them to bring cash to their respective real estate closings. As a consequence of his actions, Pasquale helped to cause a loss of approximately $937,000 to Wells Fargo Bank when the mortgages involved in the case went into foreclosure.

Pasquale faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each count. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 8, 2016.

The verdict was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.