Vern Buchanan, Gus Bilirakis backer arrested
A real estate investor and his wife who have contributed to the campaigns of U.S. Reps Vern Buchanan and Gus Bilirakis are being held in the Sarasota County Jail on multiple felony charges stemming from an alleged fraud scheme. FDLE agents arrested Mark Brivik, 55, and Marie Marie Brivik, 53, on Monday in Orlando, where they now live. Mark Brivik, described by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune as one of Southwest Florida’s “most notorious property flippers,’’ was a high flier in the area’s overheated real estate market before the housing boom crashed.
Federal records show the couple gave a total of $8,300 to Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and $4,200 to Bilrakis, R-Palm Harbor, in 2006 plus $4,300 to various Republican Party committees between 2001 and 2004. Brivik, a disbarred lawyer wanted in his native South Africa on fraud and theft charges, hosted a fundraiser for Buchanan in 2006 and listed Buchanan as the secured party on two 2006 financing statements related to the Boca Creek Development Co., state records show.
On his 2006 personal financial disclosure statement, Buchanan listed a loan to Brivik of between $500,000 and $1 million – and on his 2007 report listed the loan as having zero value.
UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who received $4,200 in campaign contributions in 2006 from a man facing numerous felony fraud charges, will make a $4,200 contribution to Operation Helping Hand in Tampa, Bilrakis spokesman Dave Peluso said Thursday afternoon. Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, had been unaware of any allegations concerning real estate investor Mark Brivik until reading about them on the Buzz.
Susan Taylor Martin