Developer accused of mortgage fraud

Article Courtesy of The Daily Commercial

Published March 25, 2012 

MONTVERDE -- When comedian Chris Tucker's mansion was foreclosed on last year in the upscale Bella Collina development in Montverde, he had complained the value of the home was inflated when he bought it.

Now, a Florida law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against the former developer, alleging it "engaged in a massive real estate and mortgage fraud involving fraudulent real estate appraisals throughout Florida."

The lawsuit by Gilman Law LLP names affiliates, Ginn Development, Ginn Title, The Ginn Company, Ginn & Co., Lubert-Adler, LP, and other alleged co-conspirators as defendants. The complaint was filed March 12 in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Collier County.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged fraud consisted of false representations, deceptively created impressions of false values, artificially created scarce supply of properties and memberships, and artificially high demand based upon fake illusory real estate sales. The lawsuit accuses defendants Lubert-Adler Partners and Bobby Ginn of forming joint venture partnerships and defrauding investors and purchasers at 10 properties in Florida, including Bella Collina, 15920 County Road 455.

"We are seeking to recover the losses of such persons and entities related to the Ginn properties," stated Kenneth Gilman, managing partner of Gilman Law LLP of Bonita Springs.

The suit alleges that defendants used mails and wires to induce class members to purchase at fraudulently inflated prices, violated the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and provided kickbacks to Ginn employees and bank employees to sell and finance properties at values artificially inflated from 2004 through 2009.

Ginn Development Company, founded in 1998 and based in Davenport, could not be reached for comment. Bella Collina general manager Jerry Thompson had no comment on the lawsuit, saying he had no knowledge of Ginn Development.

The company apparently has no connection anymore with Bella Collina, 1,900-acre community on the western shores of Lake Apopka that was supposed to feature 800 homes. While more than 700 lots were sold between 2004 and 2007, only about 40 were ever developed into homes.

One of these was Tucker's 10,000-square-foot mansion he bought in 2007 for $6 million. He was forced to sell the five-bedroom home because he still owed $4.4 million on it to SunBank. The property was appraised last year at $1.6 million.