News and Press Releases

Clearwater Man Sentenced To More Than 17 Years For Scheme To Defraud Private Equity Firms And 84 Year Old Man

September 27, 2012

Tampa, Florida - U.S. District Judge James Moody yesterday sentenced Robert Edwards (28, Clearwater) to 17½ years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $4,751,881.63, the proceeds of the conspiracy. Edwards was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,184,733.87.

According to court documents, Edwards and his co-conspirators engaged in a fraud scheme designed to steal money from two private equity lenders and an 84-year-old man. The fraud was uncovered after the conspirators fraudulently obtained a multi-million dollar loan that was purportedly secured by a first-priority mortgage, along with other financial guarantees, in Harbourtowne at Countrywoods, a condominium development located in Dunedin. The owner of the development hired his son, Marc Allen, to manage the condominium development, granting him a limited power of attorney to lease units and manage the property. Allen had no legal right to encumber the property or otherwise pledge the property as collateral.

Edwards and Allen created and filed a fraudulent Power of Attorney, bearing the forged signature of William Allen, purporting to empower Marc Gregory Allen to encumber the development. Marc Allen obtained a mortgage, encumbering Harbourtowne, based upon the fraudulent claim that he had the legal right to engage in the transaction. Edwards and Marc Allen subsequently negotiated a $3,054,778.13 loan based upon fraudulent and non-existent collateral. Edwards created fraudulent documents in pursuit of the loan and also created a forged Letter of Credit for $5 million from East West Bankcorp, which purported to secure the loan. In fact the conspirators had no legitimate relationship with East West Bankcorp.

Edwards and Marc Allen also devised a scheme to divert the portion of the loan proceeds intended to satisfy the previous mortgage into accounts they controlled. The total amount of loss resulting from the fraud was $4,751,881.63. In addition, at least eight different personal identities were stolen, including those of two attorneys and three notaries. Edwards also stole an additional $500,000 directly from Marc Allen's 84-year-old father and used the stolen money to pay for his personal indulgences.

Marc Allen pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas N. Palermo and Laurel Moore Lee.









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