Three Florida men sentenced to prison over false statements in condo closing

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 statements.

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.