When Lloyd Boggio sold his Miami affordable-housing business a decade ago, he envisioned making hefty profits from his ongoing investment deals with the new owner of his company, Carlisle Development Group.
But while his plan seemed to promise a comfortable retirement, Boggio would soon become entangled in a $34 million housing scheme with the young Carlisle CEO, Matthew Greer.
“I’m sorry for what happened, and that I wasn’t able to stop it at an earlier point,” Boggio, 70, said on Friday in Miami federal court.
Boggio, who struck a plea deal before his trial in September, was sentenced to about five years in prison. U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro admitted the difficulty of punishing him in a complex fraud case in which six other defendants pleaded guilty early on and cooperated with authorities, resulting in more lenient prison terms.
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“I am concerned about equity,” said Ungaro, who also noted the defendant’s age and declining health.
Boggio was accused last year with Greer and five others of conspiring to steal U.S. government funds to subsidize more than a dozen affordable housing developments in Miami-Dade County through a tax-credit program designed to create rental apartments for low-income residents. Greer, Boggio and the others inflated construction expenses to qualify for higher tax credits and then shared millions in illicit proceeds by completing apartment projects at lower costs.
All of the defendants, except Boggio, reached quick plea agreements on conspiracy charges of stealing government funds. Boggio, the oldest of the defendants, eventually pleaded guilty to money laundering. He also agreed to turn over $2 million from bank accounts, along with proceeds from the pending sale of a multimillion-dollar luxury home in Coconut Grove in an effort to satisfy a $7.2 million forfeiture judgment.
But Boggio, who must surrender in February to start his prison term, could have obtained a lesser sentence had he cut a deal at the outset rather than prepared to fight the U.S. attorney’s office at trial over the past year.
In contrast, the judge recently sentenced Greer, 38, to just three years in prison, though he stole twice as much — $16 million — as Boggio did from the federal tax-credit program, his defense attorneys, Scott Srebnick and Edward Shohat, pointed out at Friday’s hearing. As part of his plea deal, Greer repaid all that money to the government.
Greer, Carlisle’s successor, had pleaded guilty to two theft conspiracy counts in a plea deal that required him to testify against his former mentor, Boggio. Boggio’s defense team initially planned to attack Greer as a witness by questioning him about the role of his parents, attorneys Bruce and Evelyn Greer, in Carlisle’s projects.
Bruce Greer had started the company with Boggio two decades ago, and Evelyn Greer, a former mayor of Pinecrest and ex-member of the Miami-Dade School Board, advised her son and Boggio on Carlisle’s deals, according to court records.
The Greer parents, who were never under investigation, received immunity from prosecution in a once-secret side agreement to the son’s plea deal last year. Boggio’s planned defense strategy that he committed no wrongdoing and was simply relying on the advice of Greer’s mother never unfolded at trial because of his own plea deal.
Thanks to his parents’ financial backing, Greer bought out Boggio’s interest in Carlisle in 2007. The following year, Greer replaced him as CEO, but Boggio retained profit interests in several of Carlisle’s projects that were still in the pipeline.
Prosecutor Michael Sherwin said that while Boggio taught Greer how to carry out the tax-credit scheme, Greer put it on “steroids.” Greer also transformed Carlisle into the biggest developer of affordable housing in Florida.
Last year, Greer and Boggio were accused of conspiring with former development partners, Biscayne Housing Group’s co-founders Michael Cox and Gonzalo DeRamon, as well as with South Florida contractors Michael Runyan, Rene Sierra and Arturo Hevia. Collectively, the developers stole about $34 million in federal housing subsidies by inflating construction costs and receiving kickbacks, according to FBI and IRS agents. The contractors, who paid the kickbacks, kept a portion of that money, too.
Last week, the judge sentenced DeRamon to 1 1/2 years in prison, but gave lenient probationary sentences to the other four defendants, along with some home confinement and community service. She also ordered them to repay their share of money stolen from the federal tax-credit program.