Developer Robert “Bob” V. Matthews and real estate attorney Leslie Robert Evans pleaded not guilty a month after their arrests on charges that they swindled foreign investors through the U.S. government’s EB-5 visa program.
Prosecutors accused Matthews and Evans of redirecting $50 million EB-5 funds intended for a still-unfinished Palm House condo-hotel project at 160 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach. Construction at the site stopped in 2014 and a court-appointed receiver now oversees the project.
Based on a grand jury indictment, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut charged both Matthews, 60, and Evans, 70, with wire fraud, bank fraud and illegal monetary transactions.
The defendants pleaded not guilty April 17 at a federal courthouse in Bridgeport, Conn.
They face maximum prison sentences ranging from 10 years for each count of illegal monetary transactions and 20 years for bank fraud to 30 years for each count of wire fraud.
The grand jury’s indictment accuses Matthews of 10 counts of illegal monetary transactions, eight counts of wire fraud, and one count of bank fraud, plus one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.
Following his March 15 arrest, Matthews arranged a $500,000 personal surety bond while in federal custody and then at his house in Palm Beach.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman on March 19 ordered Matthews to remain confined in his house at 101 Casa Benita in Palm Beach.
After Matthews posted the personal surety bond, the judge lifted the house-confinement order March 23 but ordered Matthews to wear a personal tracking device. [Palm Beach Daily News] – Mike Seemuth