A federal judge delayed the criminal trial of Palm House developer Robert V. Matthews, his wife and a real estate attorney until summer.
All three defendants, who are free on bond, face charges related to the unfinished Palm House hotel-condominium project in Palm Beach.
Judge Victor A. Bolden of the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said in an order that he delayed the start of jury selection until July 8 to give the defendants more time “to continue plea negotiations.”
Jury selection for the trial had been scheduled to start in Bolden’s courtroom on Monday.
Matthews and real estate attorney Leslie R. Evans have pleaded not guilty to charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Matthews and his wife Mia have pleaded not guilty to federal tax evasion.
All three cases will be consolidated in one trial in Connecticut.
Federal prosecutors say Matthews and Evans used the federal EB-5 visa program to defraud foreign investors in the Palm House project. Construction work on the project stopped in 2014.
In a separate but related civil case, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Matthews and Joseph Walsh, director of the South Atlantic Regional Center, with fraudulent misappropriation of funds from foreign investors in the Palm House project.
A bankruptcy auction of the Palm House property at 160 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach is scheduled for Friday. An affiliate of the New York-based Related Companies has a contract to buy the property for $32 million.
But a bidder who offers to pay a higher price could acquire the property during the bankruptcy auction on Friday at a bankruptcy courtroom in West Palm Beach. [Palm Beach Daily News] – Mike Seemuth