Archives For Investment Scams

David W. Schwarz, 60, Orlando, Florida, the former  Chief Financial Officer of Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas (Cay Clubs), was sentenced to 40 years in prison.  Schwarz was convicted at trial by a federal jury on March 3, 2017 of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of interference with the administration of the IRS.  Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, sitting in Key West, sentenced Schwarz to 40 years in prison. Judge Moore found that the criminal conduct resulted in $303 million in fraudulent proceeds and approximately $170 million in victim losses. A restitution hearing has been set for July 10, 2017, in Key West.

According to evidence at trial, Schwarz was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Cay Clubs, which operated purported luxury resorts in the Florida Keys, Clearwater, Orlando, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. Between 2004 and 2008, Cay Clubs grew to more than 1,000 employees and became one of the largest employers in the Florida Keys. Schwarz, who was the one-third owner, and Fred Davis Clark, Jr., a/k/a Dave Clark,  59, formerly a resident of Tavernier, Florida, who was the two-thirds owner, began Cay Clubs in 2004 with fraudulent sales of Cay Clubs units to insiders, using money from Cay Clubs bank accounts to fund the cash to close for purchases, while obtaining mortgage financing from lending institutions. These fraudulent sales were used in marketing materials to falsely show demand for Cay Clubs units and to inflate prices, as Cay Clubs was in reality purchasing units from itself. Proceeds of these sales were diverted to Schwarz and Clark.

Trial evidence established that Cay Clubs raised more than $300 million from approximately 1,400 investors, who purchased units in Cay Clubs developments. Schwarz and Clark failed to remodel the dilapidated properties as they promised investors, while taking millions of dollars out of the company for their own benefit. During the operation of Cay Clubs from 2004 through 2008, Schwarz and Clark diverted more than $30 million in proceeds for themselves, including millions of dollars in cash transfers that were used to purchase property and other businesses, including a gold mine, a rum distillery, aircraft, and a coal reclamation business.

Trial evidence further showed that as Cay Clubs faced dwindling sales due to its failure to upgrade the dilapidated properties in 2006, Schwarz, Clark, and others engaged in additional fraudulent sales of Cay Clubs units to insiders, including Clark’s family members. These mortgage loans were used to prevent Cay Clubs from defaulting on commercial debts. The documents used to obtain these mortgages included falsified signatures and notary attestations, and had Cay Clubs acting as the seller while Schwarz provided the cash to close so that mortgage loans could be obtained to fund the sales.

During the course of this scheme, Schwarz and Clark did not file any corporate tax return for $74 million in income generated by the Cay Clubs entities. Furthermore, neither Schwarz or Clark filed any individual tax return for these years until after an investigation of Cay Clubs by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2010 and 2011, Schwarz filed false individual tax returns for tax years 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively, in which he substantially underreported his income for these tax years and concealed his receipt of millions of dollars in proceeds.

On December 11, 2015, Clark was convicted by a federal jury in connection with related bank fraud charges and obstruction of the SEC. He was sentenced on February 21, 2016, to 40 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. Former Cay Clubs sales executives Barry Graham, 59, formerly of Ft. Myers, Florida,and Ricky Lynn Stokes, 54,formerly of Ft. Myers, Florida, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in related cases and were sentenced to 60 months, and 30 months, respectively.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), made the announcement. Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI and FHFA-OIG, and the extensive assistance of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. This matter was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerrob Duffy, James V. Hayes, and Alison Lehr.

David W. Schwarz, 60, Orlando, Florida, the former Chief Financial Officer of Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas (Cay Clubs)  was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy, bank fraud, and tax offenses after a two-week jury trial before Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore.

According to evidence at trial, Schwarz was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Cay Clubs, which operated purported luxury resorts in the Florida Keys, Clearwater, Orlando, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. Between 2004 and 2008, Cay Clubs grew to more than 1,000 employees and became one of the largest employers in the Florida Keys. Schwarz, who was the one-third owner, and Fred Davis Clark, Jr., a/k/a Dave Clark, 59, formerly a resident of Tavernier, Florida, who was the two-thirds owner, began Cay Clubs in 2004 with fraudulent sales of Cay Clubs units to insiders, using money from Cay Clubs bank accounts to fund the cash to close for purchases, while obtaining mortgage financing from lending institutions. These fraudulent sales were used in marketing materials to falsely show demand for Cay Clubs units and to inflate prices, as Cay Clubs was in reality purchasing units from itself. Proceeds of these sales were diverted to Schwarz and Clark.

Trial evidence established that Cay Clubs raised more than $300 million from approximately 1,400 investors, who purchased units in Cay Clubs developments. Schwarz and Clark failed to remodel the dilapidated properties as they promised investors, while taking millions of dollars out of the company for their own benefit. During the operation of Cay Clubs from 2004 through 2008, Schwarz and Clark diverted more than $30 million in proceeds for themselves, including millions of dollars in cash transfers, that was used to purchase property and other businesses, including a gold mine, a rum distillery, aircraft, and a coal reclamation business.

Trial evidence further showed that as Cay Clubs faced dwindling sales due to its failure to upgrade the dilapidated properties in 2006, Schwarz, Clark, and others engaged in additional fraudulent sales of Cay Clubs units to insiders, including Clark’s family members. These mortgage loans were used to prevent Cay Clubs from defaulting on commercial debts. The documents used to obtain these mortgages included falsified signatures and notary attestations, and had Cay Clubs acting as the seller while Schwarz provided the cash to close so that mortgage loans could be obtained to fund the sales.

During the course of this scheme, Schwarz and Clark did not file any corporate tax return for $74 million in income generated by the Cay Clubs entities. Furthermore, neither Schwarz or Clark filed any individual tax return for these years until after an investigation of Cay Clubs by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 2010 and 2011, Schwarz filed false individual tax returns for tax years 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively, in which he substantially underreported his income for these tax years and concealed his receipt of millions of dollars in proceeds.

Schwarz was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, two counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and one count of interference with the administration of the IRS, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a). Schwarz faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison for each of the conspiracy and bank fraud offenses, and 3 years for the tax offense. Sentencing is scheduled for May 1, 2017, at the federal courthouse in Key West, Florida.

On December 11, 2015, Clark was convicted by a federal jury in connection with related bank fraud charges and obstruction of the SEC. He was sentenced on February 21, 2016, to 40 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. Former Cay Clubs sales executives Barry Graham, 59,  formerly of Ft. Myers, Florida and Ricky Lynn Stokes, 54, formerly of Ft. Myers, Florida, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in related cases and were sentenced to 60 months, and 30 months, respectively.

G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), made the announcement.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI and FHFA-OIG, and the extensive assistance of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerrob Duffy, James V. Hayes, and Alison Lehr.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Alberic Okou Agodio, 31, Bethesda, Maryland, was sentenced to 61 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, arising from a mortgage fraud scheme in which he used the names of immigrants and students, along with false financial information, to obtain $3.8 million in home mortgage loans to buy approximately three dozen row houses in Baltimore, Maryland, all but one of which are in default or foreclosure. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced  also entered an order that Agodio pay restitution of $3,356,581.78.

According to his plea agreement, Agodio agreed to purchase row houses in Baltimore City, Maryland, from co-conspirator Kevin Campbell, 53, Baltimore, Maryland, who had acquired the houses as part of his real estate business.  Agodio purchased the houses at prices far in excess of their actual market value.  In return, Campbell kicked back a substantial portion of the purchase price to Agodio, which Agodio used to pay for the down payments and closing costs for most of the properties; to pay a commission to the straw purchasers whom he persuaded to allow him to use their names to purchase the properties; to pay referral fees to individuals who referred other straw purchasers to him; and to compensate himself for his participation in the scheme.  In all, from June 2009 to November 2010, Agodio purchased 35 row houses from Campbell.  The financing received on these transactions totaled approximately $3.8 million and Agodio received commission payments from Campbell in excess of $1.2 million. 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…

Angelo Alleca, 46, Buffalo, New York, and Mark Morrow, 54, Cincinnati, Ohio, were arraigned on charges of orchestrating a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme.  The Defendants marketed several funds that were supposed to invest in certain assets/investments, such as hedge funds managed by a professional money manager of mortgage debt.  According to the new indictment, they instead used the money to pay redemptions to earlier investors, to acquire and operate several businesses, and to pay personal expenses.

According to U.S. Attorney John Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: From on or about 2004 until 2012,  Alleca acted as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Summit Wealth Management, an investment adviser headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. During that time, Alleca started several funds and falsely misrepresented that money would be invested in hedge funds and debt securities and managed by professional investment managers. Continue Reading…

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud lawsuit and obtained an asset freeze to halt an ongoing real estate investment scheme being conducted by a trio of business associates in California accused of stealing investors’ money while promising them “indestructible wealth.”

The SEC alleges that Paul Ricky Mata, David Kayatta, and Mario Pincheira stole investor proceeds for their own use and diverted money to unrelated businesses.  They raised more than $14 million from more than 100 investors in California and several other states for two unregistered funds purporting to invest in real estate.  Online videos posted to Mata’s website and YouTube channel helped attract investors to attend investment seminars with such titles as “Finances God’s Way” or “Indestructible Wealth” where they encouraged many retirees to sell their existing securities holdings and invest in the funds, which falsely guaranteed promising returns.  The funds have never actually made a profit. Continue Reading…

Nine individuals were sentenced on federal charges stemming from a mortgage fraud scheme involving 45 properties and $16 million in mortgage loans used for the purchase of residential real estate in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

The sentencings occurred before the Honorable Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Defendants include:

  • Edward Dacy, 77, West Melbourne, Florida. He was sentenced on August 6, 2015 to six years in prison. Dacy was found guilty by a jury of 10 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, and mail fraud. Upon completion of his prison term, Dacy will be placed on three years of supervised release. In addition, Judge Walton ordered that he pay $2,730,345 in restitution and an identical amount as a forfeiture money judgment.
  • Frank Davis, Jr., 49, Washington, D.C. He was sentenced on August 7, 2015 to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Upon completion of his prison term, Davis will be placed on three years of supervised release. Judge Walton also ordered that Davis pay $2,730,345 in restitution and an amount of $2,296,463 as a forfeiture money judgment;
  • Frederick Robinson, Sr., 52, Montgomery, Alabama. He was sentenced on July 31, 2015 to 27 months in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Upon completion of his prison term, Robinson will be placed on three years of supervised release. Robinson also was ordered to pay $925,311 in restitution and an amount of $971,900 as a forfeiture money judgment.
  • Lonnie Johnson, 47, Greensboro, North Carolina. He was sentenced on July 15, 2015 to one year and one day in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Upon completion of his prison term, Johnson will be placed on three years of supervised release. In addition, Judge Walton ordered that he pay $277,000 in restitution.
  • Cheryl E. Morrison, 54, West Melbourne, Florida. She was sentenced on Aug. 5, 2015 to five years of probation for conspiracy to commit mail fraud; she was required to serve 90 days of that time in home detention. She also must pay $42,600 in restitution;
  • Howard Tutman, III, 54, Woodstock, Maryland. He was sentenced on Aug. 4, 2015 to five years of probation for conspiracy to commit bank fraud; he was required to serve 20 weekends in jail. In addition, Judge Walton ordered Tutman to pay $484,370 in restitution and $606,414 in forfeiture;
  • Pauline Pilate, 50, Washington, D.C. She was sentenced on July 16, 2015 to three years of probation for conspiracy to commit bank fraud; she was required to serve eight weekends in jail. In addition, Judge Walton ordered that she pay $1 million in restitution and an identical amount as a forfeiture money judgment;
  • A. Conrad Austin, 49, Bowie, Maryland. He was sentenced on May 15, 2015 to five years of probation for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud; he was required to serve four weekends in jail. In addition, Judge Walton ordered that he pay $5,001 in restitution and an identical amount as a forfeiture money judgment.
  • Anthony Young, 47, Clinton, Maryland. He was sentenced today to five years of probation for conspiracy to commit bank fraud; he is required to serve eight weekends in jail. In addition, Judge Walton ordered that he pay $300,600 in restitution.

Davis and Robinson purchased properties in the names of general partnerships; Davis and Robinson then recruited individuals, or straw buyers, to re-purchase these same properties for higher amounts, funded by fraudulently obtained mortgage loans, by promising the buyers that they would not be required to: make financial contributions toward the purchase of the properties; pay the monthly mortgage payments or expenses; or maintain the properties. These mortgage loans were obtained by fraudulent statements and documents, including false loan applications and real estate contracts, phony cashier’s checks and verifications from banks, fabricated tax returns, and letters from a Certified Public Accountant.

Davis recruited Young, who assisted with recruiting other straw buyers; Pilate, who obtained her real estate license in order to create real estate sales contracts for the straw buyers, and Johnson, a bank employee who assisted in creating false verifications of deposits. In order to obtain mortgage loans in the names of some of the straw buyers, Robinson recruited Austin, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), to create false CPA letters, inflated tax returns, and unjustified financial statements. Tutman was the loan officer on 14 loans or loan attempts, and knew that the borrowers were merely straw buyers for Davis and Robinson and the loan applications contained inflated salaries.

Morrison worked at the settlement company with Dacy, her husband. The settlement company received the funding from the mortgage lender and should have collected the buyers’ cash contributions; it was under the obligation to disburse the loan money only if all of the mortgage lender’s conditions were met and the buyer’s financial contributions collected. Morrison and Dacy handled the straw buyers’ settlement of the properties, with knowledge that the straw buyers did not pay the cash contribution as required by the lenders.

The sentencings conclude a three-year investigation relating to this mortgage fraud scheme involving the defrauding of banks, mortgage lenders, and the Federal Housing Administration, part of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, of money by obtaining mortgage loans on residential real estate properties through false loan applications and documents and fraudulent settlements. These actions ultimately caused a loss to the banks, lenders, and FHA when mortgages were not paid. Some of the fraudulently-obtained mortgage loans were later resold in the secondary mortgage market to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

In this case, a group of greedy individuals teamed up with a real estate agent, a certified public accountant, employees of a settlement company, and others to carry out a far-reaching scheme that caused millions of dollars in losses to banks and other lending institutions,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen, Jr. “These defendants took money that could have been used to help honest, hard-working people attain the dream of home ownership. They used straw buyers and falsified documents to carry out their long-running fraud. The prosecution in this case demonstrates our resolve to aggressively deal with those who engage in mortgage fraud at the expense of the entire community.”

This was a multi-tiered scheme with multiple individuals playing a role, and every single one of them underestimated the ability and commitment of law enforcement to protect innocent victims and ultimately the taxpayers from mortgage fraud schemes,” said Olga Acevedo, Special Agent in Charge of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Office of the Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency. “We are proud to be a part of the multi-agency effort to hold accountable those who engage in mortgage and bank fraud. FHFA-OIG will continue to carry out this work until all are held accountable.

This sentencing was the result of outstanding investigative work conducted by the HUD OIG, and our law enforcement partners,” said Cary Rubenstein, Special Agent in Charge of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD-OIG). “This collaborative effort sends a clear message that we will commit the necessary resources to make sure that the fraudsters are brought to justice and are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Even though this $16 million mortgage fraud conspiracy targeted lenders, banks, and the Federal Housing Administration, the result of these criminal actions hurts our entire community,” said Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that these criminal schemes do not go unpunished.”

In announcing the sentences, Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen, Special Agent in Charge Acevedo, Special Agent in Charge Rubenstein, and Assistant Director in Charge McCabe expressed appreciation for the work performed by the Special Agents and analysts from the Offices of Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Department of Housing and Urban Development and the FBI, who investigated the case. They also expressed appreciation for the work of the U.S. Secret Service and the Offices of Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security, which assisted in the investigation. They acknowledged the efforts of those working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Paralegal Specialists Ida Anbarian, Donna Galindo, Corinne Kleinman, Kristy Penny, Tasha Harris, and Heather Sales, former Paralegal Specialist Sarah Reis, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Saler, Thomas Swanton, and Arvind K. Lal, who assisted with forfeiture issues. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Virginia Cheatham and David A. Last, who tried the case against Edward Dacy and handled the plea negotiations with Conrad Austin, and Virginia Cheatham who prosecuted the case.

Daniel J. Flynn, III, 52, Milton, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged in U.S. District in Boston with wire fraud.  According to the criminal complaint, Flynn defrauded investors of millions in a real estate investment scheme that began in at least 2007.

The complaint details several aspects of the alleged scheme, including that Flynn falsified the value of his real estate investment fund by creating fraudulent promissory notes purportedly worth millions and representing to investors that they were legitimate debts that were owed to Flynn’s real estate investment fund.  Second, the complaint alleges that Flynn repeatedly induced investors to loan him money to purchase specific pieces of property that, in some cases, Flynn already owned.  It is further alleged that Flynn often used investor’s money to pay his personal debts and to repay prior investors.  Once investors uncovered Flynn’s fraudulent activities, Flynn changed the name of his business and created similar entities through the names of third parties in an effort to conceal his fraudulent activities.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil J. Gallagher, Jr. of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

William Donnelly Yotty, 69, who currently resides in Monarch Beach, California but during the course of the scheme lived in Lodi, California, pleaded guilty to the federal mail fraud and wire fraud charges for operating a Ponzi scheme that featured false promises of large returns to victims who invested in debt obligations and distressed real estate.

In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Yotty admitted that he ran several Lodi-based companies that offered bogus investments in corporate debt obligations and in distressed real estate that he and his salespeople said could be “flipped” for substantial profit. Continue Reading…

Edward Dacy, 77, most recently of West Melbourne, Florida, was sentenced to six years in prison on charges stemming from a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud investment scheme involving 45 properties and $16 million in mortgage loans used for the purchase of residential real estate in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Dacy was found guilty on March 25, 2015, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, of 10 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, and mail fraud.  His conviction completes a three-year investigation relating to this mortgage fraud scheme. A total of nine individuals have admitted their guilt through guilty pleas or were found guilty after trial. Upon completion of his prison term, Dacy will be placed on three years of supervised release. In addition, Judge Walton ordered that he pay $2,730,345 in restitution and an identical amount as a forfeiture money judgment. Continue Reading…