Archives For real estate developer

Laurance H. Freed, 54, Chicago, Illinois, a real estate developer and the president of Joseph Freed & Associates LLC, was sentenced to three years in prison in connection with a fraud scheme related to a $105 million line of credit secured by city and suburban properties, including the Streets of Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois.  The scheme also involved the theft of millions of dollars from his business partner, Kimco Realty Corp. Freed also fraudulently obtained more than $575,000 in publicly funded loans from the city of Chicago, and attempted to fraudulently obtain an additional $1 million from the city.

A federal jury last year convicted Freed on three counts of bank fraud, one count of mail fraud, and four counts of making a false statement to a financial institution. In addition to the 36-month prison term, U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow also fined Freed $250,000, and ordered him to pay $575,759 in restitution to a victim bank.

 

The investigation also resulted in the conviction of JFA’s vice president, CAROLINE WALTERS. Walters, of Palatine, pleaded guilty last year to one count of making a false statement to a financial institution. Judge Dow previously sentenced Walters to six months in prison.

According to evidence at Freed’s trial, the city of Chicago in 2002 issued two Tax Increment Financing notes to Uptown Goldblatts Venture LLC, a company formed by JFA to redevelop the former Goldblatt’s store in the Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The TIF notes had a combined principal of $6.7 million, and Freed pledged one of the notes to Cole Taylor Bank as collateral.

Four years later, JFA-affiliated entities entered into agreements with a bank consortium for a revolving line of credit worth up to $105 million. Uptown Goldblatts became a borrower under the revolving loan agreement through a subsequent deal with LaSalle Bank, which was one of the banks in the consortium and had recently been acquired by Bank of America. In the LaSalle deal, Uptown Goldblatts pledged the two TIF notes as collateral and also represented that the notes were owned free of other secured interests. The deal did not mention that one of the notes had already been pledged to Cole Taylor.

Evidence at trial also revealed that in 2009 and 2010 Freed signed false affidavits seeking to obtain more than $1.5 million in TIF payments from the city, knowing that he was not entitled to the payments.

As Freed’s business experienced financial difficulties, he withdrew more than $7 million from the Streets of Woodfield partnership without the knowledge and consent of his business partner Kimco, which owned 45% of the venture. Freed fraudulently recorded the money as “loans.”

These were serious offenses that merit serious punishment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew F. Madden argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “The defendant was at the heart of this scheme to defraud and the lies told in furtherance of it.”

The sentence was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Joseph M. Ferguson, Inspector General for the City of Chicago.

 

Rebecca Gheiler, 49, Miami, Florida, was indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and six counts of bank fraud.

According to the indictment, Tribute Residential, LLC (“Tribute”), which was controlled by Gheiler, owned and sold condominium communities.  To entice buyers to purchase condominium units in these communities, Gheiler developed a program of incentives.  As part of this program, buyers were promised that Tribute would pay the mortgage and homeowners’ association dues during the buyer’s first two years of occupancy.  Other incentives developed and paid for by Gheiler included upfront cash to close and/or kickbacks to buyers after closing.  During each transaction, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, signed by Gheiler as the seller, contained falsified information regarding the terms of each transaction, including the actual down payment amount paid by the buyer. In order to conceal the incentives from the mortgage lenders, Gheiler directed her co-conspirator, Angel Garcia-Oliver, to form companies that received monies from Tribute that were eventually paid to buyers and entities controlled by other co-conspirators.

If convicted, Gheiler faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count.  The indictment also notifies Gheiler that the United States is seeking a forfeiture money judgment.

Garcia-Oliver previously pleaded guilty for his role in this case. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 9, 2017.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the indictment. The case was investigated by Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent Chiu and Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Michael Barnett, real estate developer, pled guilty to conspiring to defraud lenders and make false statements to HUD in connection with his development of Vineyard Commons, a luxury residential complex in Ulster County, New York.

According to Barnett’s admissions in court during his plea allocution and the allegations made in the Superseding Indictment:

Barnett, who was the developer of Vineyard Commons, sought kickbacks and investments from subcontractors and vendors on the project and made false statements to the project’s lender so that he could draw down on the project’s line of credit. Barnett arranged with two executives of a vendor who provided rough carpentry and lumber supplies on the project (the “Lumber Company”) to have the Lumber Company pay Barnett a kickback in exchange for Barnett’s award to the Lumber Company of the Vineyard Commons contract, as well as future business on other developments Barnett was planning. To raise funds for the kickback, Barnett and the two Lumber Company executives agreed that the Lumber Company would inflate its bid for labor and materials by approximately $865,000. Continue Reading…

Samuel R. VanSickle, 51, Accident, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud arising from three fraudulent bank loans in which VanSickle received proceeds from the sale of real property in Garrett County, Maryland, and Cheat Lake, West Virginia, totaling over $5.7 million.

VanSickle and co-defendant Louis W. Strosnider, III, 49,  Oakland, Maryland, owned and developed property in Garrett County, Maryland. VanSickle used a number of different business names, including Freedom Church, Gospel Church, Equity Exchange, Unity Mortgage, Impartial Lenders, and Noble Forest Consultants, and aliases including “Donald Blunt,” “Jacob Aiken,” “Allen Helms,” and “Paul Walsh.”  Strosnider operated Stony Brook Development Company, located in McHenry, Maryland.

According to his plea agreement, from December 2001 to May 2005, VanSickle conspired with Strosnider for Strosnider to fraudulently obtain real estate loans from banks in connection with the purchase of properties controlled through aliases by VanSickle.  VanSickle concealed from the lenders his role as seller of the properties and recipient of the sales proceeds through fictitious identities such as “Donald Blunt, Trustee for Gospel Church,” “Donald Blunt, Trustee for Freedom Church,” “Equity Exchange,” “Unity Mortgage,” “Jacob Aiken” and “Allen Helms.” The scheme also involved fictitious down payments, inflated collateral, and false contracts.

For example, in 2002, VanSickle provided $600,000 for the purchase of Red Run, a restaurant and bed and breakfast which bordered on Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland.  In April 2003, VanSickle caused Red Run to be transferred for $0 to “Donald Blunt, Trustee for Gospel Church” – a fictitious church with a fictitious trustee.  In February 2004, Strosnider signed a contract to buy Red Run from Gospel Church for $3 million.  The contract recited a fictitious $750,000 down payment.  Strosnider applied to a bank for a loan to complete the purchase of Red Run.  When the bank required additional collateral, VanSickle supplied a timber contract for land in Garrett County with a valuation signed by “Paul Walsh” of “Noble Forest Consultants.”  Both “Noble Forest Consultants” and “Paul Walsh” were fictitious.  The settlement for the sale of the property was conducted by attorney Angela Blythe, 52, Oakland, Maryland.  Blythe failed to collect Strosnider’s funds to close the loan.  At VanSickle’s direction, Blythe paid over the sales proceeds of $1.6 million to “Unity Mortgage,” which was VanSickle.  “Unity Mortgage” did not, in fact, have a mortgage on Red Run.Strosnider and VanSickle used similar fraudulent methods in Strosnider’s purchase from VanSickle of 5.87 acres on State Park Road, bordering Deep Creek Lake, and 116 acres of undeveloped land on Cheat Lake, West Virginia.

VanSickle received over $5.7 million in sales proceeds from the fraudulent transactions.   Strosnider defaulted on all three loans. As a result of the scheme, the loss to the financial institutions was $2,755,102.50, the amount of the loans minus the recovery from foreclosure and sale of the collateral. VanSickle has agreed to forfeit and pay restitution in that amount, and forfeit his interest in 40 properties held in VanSickle’s name or in the names of nominees in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, up to the value of $2,755,102.50.

VanSickle faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy.  U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis scheduled sentencing for March 17, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.

The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Strosnider previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and awaits sentencing. In a related case, Blythe was convicted by a federal jury on October 9, 2015, after a nine day trial, of conspiring with VanSickle to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and two counts of making a false statement to a bank.  U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles sentenced Blythe to a year and a day in prison, and entered an order requiring Blythe to forfeit $696,517 and pay restitution of $948,203.25.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorney Joyce K. McDonald and Philip A. Selden, who are prosecuting the case.

Michael R. Anderson, 46, attorney, Framingham, Massachusetts, was sentenced to two years in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $11,048,212 in restitution and forfeit $7,413,712 in connection with a multi-year, multi-property mortgage fraud scheme in Dorchester and Roxbury, Massachusetts.  In January 2011, Anderson pleaded guilty to sixteen counts of wire fraud, nine counts of bank fraud, and two counts of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.   Continue Reading…

 Timothy L. Ritchie, 44, Annapolis, Maryland, pleaded guilty to making false statements arising from a real estate closing.

Ritchie owned and operated Richland Homes, Inc., and was in the business of building, purchasing and selling homes.

According to his plea agreement, on July 7, 2005, Ritchie attended a residential closing for his purchase of three lots located at 24058 St. Michael’s Road, St. Michael’s, Maryland.  John L. Davis, 55, real estate agent, Chestertown, Maryland, conducted the closing, and listed Ritchie on the HUD statement as the buyer/ borrower.  The HUD statement falsely stated that Ritchie provided $1,153,937.23 in cash at the closing.  In fact, Ritchie did not provide any funds to Davis at the closing. As a result of the false statement, Ritchie fraudulently obtained approximately $2,445,102 from a mortgage lender by wire transfer to fund the settlement.

Ritchie faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled his sentencing for January 14, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.

John L. Davis previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud arising from his participation in the scheme, and awaits sentencing. Davis admitted that the loss arising from his participation in the scheme is between $400,000 and $1 million.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Rene Febles of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Fran Mace, of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General.  United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FHFA – OIG and FDIC – OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin V. DiGregory and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O. Gavin, who are prosecuting the case.

Howard Goldsmith, real estate developer, 41, Raleigh, North Carolina, was sentenced to a 30 month term of imprisonment for his role in a down payment fraud scheme.  According to documents filed in Court, between August of 2006 and February of 2009, Goldsmith and his conspirators carried out a fraud upon various banks and lenders using entities Goldsmith owned or controlled, including Ganyard Farm Construction and Baldwin EstatesContinue Reading…

Stavroula Mendez, 68, real estate developer, was sentenced to 135 months in prison; Lazaro Mendez, 42, real estate developer, was sentenced to 108 months in prison; and Marie Mendez, 49, real estate developer, was sentenced to 57 months in prison in connection with their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused losses of $27.8 million.  U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz of the Southern District of Florida also ordered each of the defendants to forfeit $35,252,331 in fraudulent proceeds and to pay $21,240,064 in restitution.  In November 2014, all three defendants were convicted of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy.  Eleven other co-conspirators were previously convicted of fraud in connection with the scheme. Continue Reading…

Vince Manglardi, 59, real estate developer, Long Grove, Illinois; Theodore “TJ” Wojtas, Jr., 43, real estate developer, Glenview, Illinois; David W. Belconis, 56, attorney who owned and operated Classic Title, Inc., Long Grove, Illinois; Nunzio L. Greico, 63, Palatine, Illinois, who was formerly an employee of the developers; Walter Vali, also known as “Wally Mohammad” and “Mohammad Valimohammad,” 62, former mortgage loan originator, who did business as Sunshine Funding, Inc., Mundelein, Illinois; and Karin L. Ganswer, 62, former licensed real estate salesperson, Palatine, Illinois were indicted by an federal grand jury and charged with mail and wire fraud in connection with the marketing and sale of condominiums at a 50-acre development in Palatine, Illinois known as “The Woods at Countryside.”  They are alleged to have participated in a mortgage fraud scheme which caused more than $16 million in losses to banks, mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Continue Reading…