New York-based real estate scammer gets up to 18 years in prison

By Katherine Clarke | July 20, 2011 01:59PM

Sharmon Wade, one of two New York-based principles of a real estate investment company charged with swindling unsophisticated commercial real estate investors out of $1 million, was sentenced today to nine to 18 years in prison as well as ordered to pay restitution, according to a spokesperson for District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

“The defendant preyed on hard-working New Yorkers,” Vance, who had recommended a 10- to 20-year sentence, said in a statement last year. “This scheme was founded on brazen lies.”

Wade and partner Claudius Hannah, of phony company Covenant Equity Group, were arrested in 2009. Last year, Wade pleaded guilty to grand larceny, securities fraud, scheme to defraud and violation of tax law, authorities said. Hannah pleaded guilty to most of the same charges.

As The Real Deal previously reported, the pair convinced investors to give them between $1,900 and $200,000 with promises of returns of 50 to 100 percent on investment in one or two months.

Between June 2007 and August 2008, the pair never made any real estate investments, despite claiming they would buy into projects such as the Allegro Palms, a residential condominium project in Riverview, Fla. Instead, they blew the money on nightclubs, restaurants, high-end clothes and spas, investigators said.

At one time, Covenant had offices in the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue.

Wade was ordered to pay restitution to victims in the amount of $1.24 million, the spokesperson said.

Hannah is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 11, the DA’s office said.

Wade’s attorney Glenn Abolafia could not be immediately reached for comment.