Crime

Miami-based Carlisle’s former CEO pleads guilty to stealing millions

Miami

Matthew Greer, the son of a prominent Miami-Dade family who once ran the state’s biggest affordable-housing development company, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing tens of millions of dollars in U.S. government subsidies for apartment projects built in the county’s poorest neighborhoods.

His plea was expected but it came with an unexpected twist: As part of his cooperation deal, the 37-year-old Greer, former chief executive officer of Carlisle Development Group, will likely become one of the prosecution’s key witnesses in the criminal trial of the company’s previous leader, Lloyd Boggio. He was scheduled to plead guilty along with Greer, but at the last minute Boggio changed his mind and decided to take his chances at trial.

Boggio, 69, who founded Carlisle with Matthew Greer’s father in 1997, was not present in Miami federal court on Tuesday. His defense attorneys, Scott Srebnick and Edward Shohat, told U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro that their client would not be pleading guilty. Prosecutors Michael Sherwin and Michael Berger told the judge that they would seek a new indictment by next week.

Boggio’s attorneys suggested that preparation for the trial could take months — citing millions of Carlisle documents in evidence and some 180 grand jury subpoenas in the case — but the judge did not appear to have much patience for delays. “It may not be all that far in the future,” Ungaro told them.

Until this week, both Greer and Boggio had planned to plead guilty to stealing $26 million in U.S. government funds — tax credits that were meant for Carlisle’s development of high-rise rental apartments to serve low-income residents.

Greer, represented by defense attorneys Roy Black and Jackie Perczek, pleaded guilty to two conspiracy offenses involving theft of government funds and now faces up to 10 years in prison. Boggio was supposed to follow suit, but didn’t. As part of his plea deal, Greer also must repay $16 million to the U.S. government. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13.

Greer, the son of well-known lawyer Bruce Greer and former Pinecrest Mayor Evelyn Greer, is also required to tell the truth about his crime and testify before the grand jury or at trial, if prosecutors ask him. In exchange, Greer could see his prison sentence reduced substantially. His parents did not attend Tuesday’s plea hearing, though other family members were present.

Greer, who graduated from Columbia University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, joined Carlisle in 2004 and bought out Boggio’s interest in the company three years later. In 2008, Greer replaced him as CEO but Boggio retained partnership interests in several of Carlisle’s projects.

Prosecutors say Greer and Boggio conspired with former development partners, Biscayne Housing Group’s co-founders Michael Cox and Gonzalo DeRamon, as well as Fort Launderdale 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 have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and are also cooperating witnesses.

In total, Greer, Boggio and the other defendants plundered U.S. tax credits to line their pockets from 14 government-subsidized projects built mostly for the poor in Miami-Dade County. All but one were built in the low-income Brownsville, Little Haiti and Overtown neighborhoods between 2007 and 2012.

Greer and Boggio 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 said in court papers. The contractors kept records of the kickbacks on “tick” sheets, they said.

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 run by the state of Florida and Internal Revenue Service.

In August, Cox, 47, who cooperated with authorities, pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy offense before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro. He faces up to five years at his sentencing in November — though he is expected to receive less punishment because of his assistance — and must pay back $4.4 million to the federal government.

His former partner, DeRamon, 51, pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges, which carry up to 10 years. He must also pay back $4.4 million as part of his punishment at his sentencing in November.

Combined, Cox and DeRamon pocketed between $7 million and $9.5 million in illegal kickbacks from contractors in their Miami-Dade affordable-housing developments, according to their plea agreements.

Also in August, Runyan, president of BJ&K Construction Services in Fort Lauderdale, finalized a plea deal for his pivotal role of paying $26 million in kickbacks to Carlisle's senior executives. Runyan, 66, who also cooperated with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to a lone conspiracy charge. He faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing in November and must repay about $1.15 million that he pocketed from the scheme.

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