Article Courtesy of The Palm
By Pat Beall and Kimberly Miller
Published April 30, 2011
Carl Alexander and Carol Asbury bet big on Versailles real estate deals.
This week, they lost big, indicted for their part in alleged mortgage fraud in the upscale Wellington community.
They join 24 others who have been indicted or charged in Versailles schemes worth millions, first outlined in a Palm Beach Post series in 2009.
Alexander was among a cluster of about two dozen buyers from the same low-income region of Miami-Dade County. The buyers collectively bought into the Wellington community, then abruptly defaulted on $41 million in loans.
Alexander, among the most prominent players in this cluster, had two personal bankruptcy petitions, one foreclosure filing and a misdemeanor worthless check charge behind him when his company secured a $1.05 million home in Versailles.
The firm, PTL Housing & Investments Inc., assumed management of five other Versailles homes, The Post found. All of the buyers lived within 15 miles of Opa-locka, one of the poorest communities in Miami-Dade County.
According to federal indictments released Wednesday, Alexander was in charge of recruiting the buyers. Usually people of modest means, these bogus buyers were paid anywhere from $700 to $15,000 to purchase a home.
Fraudulent closing documents prepared by Parkland real estate broker David Lam and Asbury concealed the fact that lenders were loaning more money than the actual price of the home, prosecutors said. The difference between the loan and the home price, they said, ultimately was pocketed by Alexander, Asbury and Lam - an estimated $1.8 million on the sale of four homes.
Asbury, 59, founded the Save My Home Law Group in late 2009, state records show. She also sponsors the popular blog 4closurefraud.com . That blog's daily postings of foreclosure documents and regular nationwide updates on court actions are partly credited for exposing the robo-signing scandal that pushed banks to freeze home repossessions in the fall.
"I find it very disturbing that the government must use all their resources to attack the people that are exposing the fraud and corruption," said Michael Redman, who runs the foreclosure blog. "Where are the indictments on all the known felonies committed by the banks, foreclosure mills and doc shops?"
Asbury's title company handled unusual sales. Asbury & Associates was the title company for Myrtice Richardson's $1 million Versailles purchase in 2007. From her 1950s-era, $147,000 Miami home, Richardson, then 71, bought a Versailles mini-mansion on the same street where her husband, Rufus, now deceased, and daughter, Adina, had purchased their own palatial properties.
Neighbors said they did not recall ever seeing the Richardsons move into their Versailles homes, all of which landed in foreclosure.
The Richardsons have not been charged with wrongdoing, and Asbury has not been charged with wrongdoing in the Richardson home sales.
Kenneth Martin, director of lawyer regulation for the Florida Bar, confirmed Thursday that the professional organization has an open investigation into Asbury regarding the mortgage fraud charges. Bar rules require attorneys to notify the Bar's executive director within 10 days of a criminal charge, but there is no automatic suspension or immediate action taken.
Six others have been charged in recent weeks in connection with Versailles mortgage frauds. Named are Godfrey Miles of Miami, a former University of Florida and pro football player; Patrick Brinson of Miami; Weston attorney Michael Samuda; Miami firefighter Thomas Thelusma; Hollywood mortgage broker Victoria Wilson; and David Miller of Miramar.
In all indictments, the alleged scheme was basically the same: Recruit fake buyers, fraudulently secure loans in excess of the purchase price and pocket the difference between the actual home sales price and the inflated loan.
Neither Alexander nor Asbury could be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office could not say whether either was in custody. Lam has pleaded not guilty.