A federal judge sentenced a real estate attorney to slightly more than a year in prison for his role in a fraudulent scheme involving pre-construction condo sales in Vero Beach.
U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg sentenced Eric B. Granitur to slightly more than a year in prison plus five years of supervised release for helping a developer fraudulently obtain a construction loan to build the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa condominiums.
In June, a federal jury found Granitur guilty on two counts of making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution and one count of conspiring to do so.
Judge Rosenberg sentenced one of Granitur’s co-conspirators, George Heaton, to a shorter prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to the charges against him. The judge sentenced Heaton to six months in prison, three years of supervised release and a forfeiture of about $236,000.
Heaton, the developer of the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa condominiums, pleaded guilty 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 one count.
Heaton admitted that he secretly helped a buyer to purchase condo units at his Vero Beach Hotel & Spa 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.
Granitur, doing business as Live Oak Title, oversaw the closing of two condos at the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa to Stephen McKenzie, to whom Heaton provided financial help to complete the purchases. McKenzie pleaded guilty to his role in the fraudulent scheme and got a four-month prison sentence and supervised release.
Granitur got a “greatly reduced sentence from that sought by the government,” according to a statement to the Daily Business Review from his attorney, Benedict P. Kuehne. “He would never have been involved in the closings if he had known they were part of a fraud of which he was unaware.” [Daily Business Review] – Mike Seemuth