Matthew Greer, who ran the state’s biggest affordable-housing development company, surrendered to authorities Wednesday before appearing in Miami federal court on fraud charges accusing him of stealing tens of millions of dollars in U.S. government funds.
The Miami-based Carlisle Development Group’s founder, Lloyd Boggio, charged in a conspiracy with Greer, also surrendered and made his first appearance in federal court.
When he appeared on Wednesday, Greer — son of a prominent Miami-Dade family — was shackled at the wrists and ankles because he was processed by the U.S. Marshals Office before being brought over to the afternoon hearing. He smiled at supporters in the courtroom.
In contrast, Boggio was not handcuffed like Greer, instead waiting to surrender in court and then go through the processing after the proceeding.
Each was granted a $50,000 bond in Miami federal court. Greer’s arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 28 and Boggio’s for Aug. 31. Their respective defense attorneys, Roy Black and Scott Srebnick, declined to comment.
Greer and Boggio are accused of scheming with four others to rip off $36 million in federal housing subsidies by inflating construction costs and receiving kickbacks from contractors, according to charges filed in Miami federal court earlier this month. In total, Greer, Boggio and the other defendants are accused of plundering U.S. tax credits to line their pockets from 14 government-subsidized projects built mostly for the poor in Miami-Dade County.
Greer and Boggio even set up shell companies with the names of Marquesas Capital and Caesar and Cleopatra Investments to collect the illicit payments secretly, prosecutors Michael Sherwin and Michael Berger alleged in court papers.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said his office has recovered nearly $11 million in government funds stolen by the two Carlisle principals. That money will be returned to the U.S. Treasury Department, not to the tax-credit program for affordable housing that is run by the state of Florida and Internal Revenue Service program.
Greer, 37, and Boggio, 69, are charged with two conspiracy offenses that carry up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors say they received more than $26 million in kickbacks from a single Fort Lauderdale construction company that worked on eight of their projects from 2007 to 2012. All but one were built in the Brownsville, Little Haiti and Overtown neighborhoods.
Boggio had launched Carlisle with the CEO's father, Bruce Greer, a well-known Miami lawyer, in 1997. Greer's son, Matthew, later bought out Boggio's interest. Matthew Greer's mother is Evelyn Greer, a former Pinecrest mayor and Miami-Dade School Board member.
On Wednesday, federal Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman commented on Matthew Greer’s resemblance to his father when the U.S. marshals arrived with him a half hour after the hearing started.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met the man [Matthew Greer], but he looks a lot like his father,” Goodman said, after catching a glimpse of him from the bench.
Also charged in the conspiracy with Greer and Boggio: Michael Runyan, 66, president of the Fort Lauderdale-based family construction company BJ&K, which built many of Carlisle's projects in Miami-Dade. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
Other developers charged in the high-profile case are Carlisle's partners in other Miami-Dade affordable-housing deals: Michael Cox, 47, former president of the Biscayne Housing Group, and Gonzalo DeRamon, 51, a company co-founder who was originally arrested in June. They already pleaded not guilty and received bonds.
Cox and DeRamon are accused of pocketing more than $7 million in kickbacks from two contractors who worked on six affordable-housing projects — including a high-rise apartment building in Overtown that was jointly developed with Greer and Boggio, who also received illegal payments in the deal, prosecutors said. Camillus House, a major nonprofit agency that provides shelter and services for the county's homeless, donated the land for the project, known as Labre Place.
Another defendant: Rene Sierra, 57, president of Plantation-based contractor Siltek, was initially charged in June and pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiring with Cox, DeRamon, Greer and Boggio. Another defendant, Arturo Hevia, a Doral contractor, was also charged in June and pleaded guilty to conspiring with Cox and DeRamon.
The defendants are being charged by information — not by indictment — a telltale sign in the federal justice system that they are negotiating plea deals and likely to plead guilty in the future. Among those who already cooperated with the U.S. attorney's office during the four-year investigation: Cox, Runyan, Sierra and Hevia.