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Miami developer Robert Zangrillo appears to still be involved in the $1 billion Magic City Innovation District project in Little Haiti.
Zangrillo is among the dozens of parents – including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin – indicted earlier this year for their participation in the largest-ever college admissions scandal in the U.S.
In addition to being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, Zangrillo and 15 other parents are facing additional charges for conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering for paying to get their children into schools that included the University of Southern California, Stanford, Georgetown and Yale.
After the scandal broke in March, Zangrillo, a leading investor and face of the Little Haiti project, stepped away from the development and was replaced by developer Zachary Vella.
But it looks like Zangrillo, a Miami Beach resident and founder and CEO of Dragon Global, is still involved. Twice in August the Silicon Valley investor posted about the project on his personal Instagram account. Earlier this month, he tagged graffiti artist Tristan Eaton in a post that read, “New Art acquisition. Cannot wait to collaborate on Art for Magic City Innovation District 👍🏻🙏🏻 The original @tristaneaton ❤️.”
On July 24, Zangrillo’s attorneys requested their client be allowed to travel to Vava’u, Tonga for a business trip last week related to Dragon Global’s existing and future investments.
Zangrillo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the college admissions scandal, Zangrillo allegedly paid off athletic department officials at USC to designate his daughter as an athletic recruit, and had someone take classes on her behalf. He is said to have made two donations: $200,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation and $50,000 to Women’s Athletics at USC.
Though USC rejected his daughter’s application in 2017, the complaint states she was accepted after her second application, touting her rowing experience that was absent from the first application, and was placed on a VIP list of transfers.
Zangrillo’s involvement in the nearly 18-acre Magic City is especially sensitive. The partnership developing the project removed Zangrillo as manager of MCD Dragon LLC, the entity that owns 35 percent of Magic City Innovation District, in March.
The Miami City Commission approved the special area plan for Magic City on second reading in June. Developer Tony Cho, Cirque du Soleil partner Guy Laliberte and Neil Fairman’s Plaza Equity Partners are part of development group.
A month later, a nearby resident filed an appeal against the city tied to the approval of the project. Critics of the project fear that Magic City will increase the pace of the ongoing gentrification of Little Haiti, displace low-income individuals and families, and squeeze out Haitian-American owned businesses.
The city’s approval in June enables the phased construction of 2,630 residential units, 432 hotel rooms, 2 million square feet of office space, and 350,000 square feet of retail.
As part of a last-minute deal, the developers pledged to give $31 million to the Little Haiti Community Revitalization Trust with $6 million given within six months of the city’s approval if there are no lawsuits.