As Taylor Bean's Farkas seeks trial delay, he invests in Florida real estate
Wake up and good morning. It seems Lee Bentley Farkas -- who ran Ocala mortgage giant Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. into the ground -- still has time to dabble in real estate investing even as he is asking for more time from the courts to prepare for his upcoming criminal trial. Farkas, you may recall, is accused of masterminding a $1.9 billion fraud scheme that led to the August 2009 collapse of Taylor, Bean, one of the largest private mortgage lenders in the country. He faces bank, wire and securities fraud charges. Farkas (in booking mug shot) is also involved in the collapse of Alabama's large Colonial Bank, which had aligned itself a few years ago with Taylor Bean in a desperate move to find fresh capital. The bank has since failed.
His trial is supposed to start in February. He wants until May. According to the Ocala Star-Banner (story here), the "massive document database the government has shared with the defendant (Farkas) in the course of its investigation has grown tenfold -- from 5 million pages to 59 million pages -- since August. And that volume of documents -- you thought War and Peace was a long read -- has been "overwhelming" for the staff of Farkas' court-appointed attorney, William B. Cummings. Here's the actual request to the court seeking a later trial date.
None of these legal maneuvering has discouraged Farkas from playing Florida's dicey real estate market. According to the Wall Street Journal (story here), this week Farkas won court approval to sell his primary Ocala residence for $2.8 million and use the proceeds to purchase two Florida homes. Farkas' net proceeds (after commissions, closing costs and satisfying a vendor’s lien on the property) were $2.5 million, $600,000 of which Farkas used to pay off the mortgage. The remaining $1.9 million was used to close on the purchases of two more properties that day, the Journal reports. One property is on Solar Plaza Drive in Fort Lauderdale, overlooking Sunset Lake. The other is on Seventh Street Southeast in Ocala.
Here's a good Wall Street Journal account of the fall of Taylor Bean.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist