Developer admits lying to a bank for a condo construction loan

Palm Beach-based George Heaton secretly helped buyers to purchase condos at a Vero Beach development to get a $23 million construction loan

Vero Beach Hotel and Spa
Vero Beach Hotel and Spa

A real estate developer based in Palm Beach admitted to a federal judge that he lied to a bank to get construction financing for a condominium development in Vero Beach.

George Heaton, 74, faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to make false statements to a federally insured bank. Heaton had faced eight counts of bank fraud and up to 30 years in prison before he reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to a one count.

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Heaton admitted that he secretly helped buyers to purchase condo units at his Vero Beach Hotel and Spa development because he needed to sell a certain number of units to get a $23 million construction loan to build the development. He lied to Orion Bank, now known as Iberiabank, about the pre-construction condo sales from 2006 to 2009.

In addition to serving up to five years in prison, Heaton probably will be required to pay an estimated $3.3 million to reimburse bank losses. Heaton and an accountant who worked for him have agreed to testify against Eric Granitur, a Vero Beach attorney who handled the closings of condo purchases by buyers who got financial help from Heaton. [Palm Beach Post]Mike Seemuth

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