Feds: Real Estate Scam Nets Millions

Tiger Woods’ Yacht.

A North Haven man, Brent Borland, 48, has put the equity in his 43 North Haven Way residence up to secure a $2 million bond after being charged by the U.S. government with fraudulently raising, from about 40 investors, almost $22 million for a resort and airport in Belize.

“Borland promised investors high rates of return on their investments,” the criminal complaint reads. Of the nearly $22 million raised, “at least approximately $7,544,814 was diverted and spent in the United States on expenditures that had nothing to do with constructing the airport,” the complaint says.

Borland and his wife, Alana LaTorra Borland, surrendered their passports to U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses in the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse in lower Manhattan last Wednesday. Borland was arrested at 6:40 that morning. Judge Moses ordered that Borland not travel outside of New York City and Long Island.

Diana Chau, a U.S. Postal Inspector, said in the criminal complaint that “all known investors in the scheme lost money.”
The court files on the case include a colorful brochure Borland distributed to his alleged victims. Titled “The Placencia Group,” the brochure promises “an exclusive five-star resort experience” for its customers after completion. It describes a series of projects needed for completion of the plan, which would benefit its investors.

Included in the brochure is a color photograph purporting to be “Tiger Woods in his 180 Foot Mega Yacht at Placencia Marina.”

Borland was charged with three felonies — conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, securities fraud, and wire fraud. He is also being sued by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in an attempt to recover funds for those the government say he defrauded. Alana LaTorra Borland is named in that suit as a relief defendant; that is, somebody who benefitted from the illegal actions of another, and therefore is financially liable.

One of the victims was Louis Cushman, a noted realtor and former chairman of Cushman & Wakefield. In a civil suit against Borland launched in March 2017, Cushman’s attorney, Gerry Silver of Sullivan & Worcester, writes “Cushman relied on Borland’s statements and as a result invested $1 million. However, Cushman has recently learned that Borland’s statements are false.”

Silver continued, “The Placencia Airport is not, and never was, on track to be completed by the end of 2016 or any time in the foreseeable future because . . . major international airlines will not fly there because the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City is so close that there is no need for a second major international airport.”

He also wrote, “Further, an inspection has revealed that the specifications and foundation of the Placencia International Airport are not sufficient to bear the weight of international jet planes.”Borland settled out of court with Cushman in August 2017. However, according to the criminal complaint against Borland, after making a $400,000 payment back to Cushman, none of the remaining $600,000 has been paid.

Other victims who have filed civil suits against Borland include Carl Willem De Geer, a citizen and resident of Sweden, Dear Invest AB, a Swedish investment company, and Cathay Wynand Limited, a company registered in Hong Kong.

The complaint details lavish spending of investors’ money, charging, for example, that Borland used “at least $1.75 million in mortgage payments on Borland’s home in Florida, $97,000 in property taxes on the same home,” a $25,000 payment on a Mercedes Benz G63, and $183,000 in cash withdrawals. “In addition, approximately $2.67 million was disbursed to American Express to pay for credit card bills in the name of Borland’s wife.”

On top of that, more than $31,000 went to Bloomingdale’s, $36,000 was paid to the Delray Beach Club, and more than $92,000 for the Borland children to attend Unity School, a private school in Delray Beach. More than $100,000 went to a Cadillac dealership, and about $10,000 to a company called Luxury of Watches.

While the only mention of the North Haven house in the documents thus far reviewed is its use as collateral for the bond, it is described online on real estate website Zillow as a seven-bedroom, seven-and-a-half bathroom house with a full swimming pool, a butler’s pantry, and a bake kitchen. Zillow lists the house as having sold for about $4 million in September 2017.

Borland is due back in court on the criminal case June 15.

More from Our Sister Sites