Article Courtesy of The
Mortgage Professionals America
By Francis Monford
Published September 3, 2018
An attorney, a property developer, and a condominium
buyer have each been sentenced to prison for their roles in a criminal
conspiracy related to the sales of five Florida condominiums, the US
Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida announced.
US District Judge Robin Rosenberg sentenced Eric Granitur, George
Heaton, and Stephen McKenzie after they were convicted of conspiring to
make false statements to a federally insured institution. In addition to
their prison sentences, Granitur and Heaton were ordered to forfeit a
total of approximately $290,000.
As the seller and developer of the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa, Heaton paid
numerous incentives to McKenzie to buy the condominiums. Heaton agreed
to pay the cash-to-close amount that McKenzie was expected to bring to
closing and nearly $380,000 in additional cash after closing.
Granitur owned and operated Live Oak Title, which conducted two real
estate closings for McKenzie’s purchase of five condominiums from
Heaton. As an escrow agent, he was required to truthfully and accurately
prepare and distribute the HUD-1 settlement statement to financial
institutions involved in the sales.
However, Granitur knowingly caused a false closing statement to be
transmitted to a federally insured financial institution by failing to
disclose the seller credits and incentives granted by Heaton to
McKenzie. The statement also failed to disclose that the seller was
paying the buyer’s cash-to-close. The financial institutions authorized
the release of mortgage loan proceeds on the basis of the closing
Rosenberg sentenced Granitur to 12 months and one day in prison and five
years of supervised release. Granitur was also ordered to forfeit
approximately $28,000. Heaton and McKenzie both pleaded guilty and
cooperated with the government. Heaton was sentenced to six months in
prison, three years of supervised release, and forfeited approximately
$263,000. McKenzie was sentenced to four months in prison and three
years of supervised release.