A one-time major developer charged in a multimillion-dollar housing fraud case involving one of Miami’s most prominent families pleaded guilty Monday rather than face a jury trial in federal court next week.
Lloyd Boggio, 70, was accused last year with his former partner, Matthew Greer, 38, and several others of conspiring to steal U.S. government funds to subsidize affordable housing developments in Miami-Dade County through a tax-credit program designed to create rental apartments for low-income residents.
Boggio faces up to 10 years in prison on a single count of money laundering. As part of the plea deal, he agreed to forfeit about $2 million in seven frozen bank accounts and a multi-million-dollar luxury home in Coconut Grove as well as return another $7,174,357.
“The defendant and his co-conspirators stole $36 million dollars in federal monies that would otherwise have been used to provide affordable housing to hundreds of needy residents throughout the State of Florida,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer in a statement. Overall, he said, prosecutors recovered more than $20 million in stolen funds from defendants in the case.
Greer, the former CEO of Carlisle Development Group, quickly 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 the 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 a year ago. Now, Boggio’s planned defense strategy that he committed no wrongdoing and was simply relying on the advice of Greer’s mother won’t unfold at trial because of his own plea agreement.
By cutting a plea deal, Boggio avoids the risk of trial and potential conviction on conspiracy, theft, wire fraud and money laundering charges that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life.
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.
Prosecutors Michael Sherwin and Michael Berger accused Greer and Boggio of conspiring with former development partners, Biscayne Housing Group’s co-founders Michael Cox and Gonzalo DeRamon as well as with Fort Lauderdale contractor Michael Runyan and Plantation contractor Rene Sierra. Collectively, the developers stole about $36 million in federal housing subsidies by inflating construction costs and receiving kickbacks. The contractors, who paid the kickbacks, kept a portion of that money, too.
Cox, DeRamon, Runyan and Sierra already pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and are also cooperating witnesses.
In total, prosecutors say, Greer, Boggio and the other defendants plundered U.S. tax credits to line their pockets from 14 government-subsidized projects built for the poor in Miami-Dade County. All but one were built in the Brownsville, Little Haiti and Overtown neighborhoods between 2007 and 2012.
Prosecutors say Greer and Boggio set up shell companies with the names of Marquesas Capital and Caesar and Cleopatra Investments to collect the illicit payments secretly.
“Stealing money from the federal government is not a victimless crime. In this case, $36 million in taxpayer dollars intended for low-income housing developments never reached the needy but instead lined the pockets of Lloyd Boggio and his co-conspirators,” said William J. Maddalena, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Miami. “The FBI is committed to rooting out this type of fraud and reclaiming money that was dishonestly obtained.”
Boggio is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9 before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.