Palm Beach attorney accused of EB-5 fraud sells mixed-use property

Evans pleaded not guilty in April to charges related to the Palm House Hotel, an unfinished condo-hotel project

Leslie Evans, property at 249 Royal Poinciana Way
Leslie Evans, property at 249 Royal Poinciana Way

A Palm Beach attorney who federal prosecutors allege was involved in $50 million EB-5 fraud scheme just sold a three-building mixed-use property in Palm Beach for about $4 million.

Leslie Evans, a real estate attorney who is now facing federal fraud charges, sold the 5,576-square-foot residential and retail property at 249 Royal Poinciana Way, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.

The buyer is a company affiliated with Palm Beach-based Armata Holdings Management Corp., a real estate investment firm run by Alexander Hufty Griswold.

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In April, Evans pleaded not guilty to charges related to a still un-finished condo-hotel project known as the Palm House Hotel. Prosecutors accuse Evans and the project’s developer, Robert Matthews, of defrauding about 60 Chinese and Iranian investors out of $50 million.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs falsely claimed that famous celebrities and politicians such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Celine Dion and Bill Koch – would serve on the Palm House’s advisory board. The investors were allegedly seeking green cards through the EB-5 federal visa program.

Construction at the site stopped in 2014 and a court-appointed receiver now oversees the project. 

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. 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.
[Palm Beach Daily News] — Keith Larsen