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New York millionaire and notorious Tampa landlord Steven Green starts prison term

TAMPA — Steven Green, the millionaire real estate investor and philanthropist who flew to appointments in a Cessna jet and slept in mansions in Tampa, Nantucket, and Hyde Park, N.Y., now has a new address: federal prison in southeast Minnesota.

Twenty-seven months after being sentenced to prison for defrauding a Tampa bank and failing to file income tax returns, Green, 44, began serving his term at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, a federal facility that provides specialized medical and mental health care to more than 1,000 male inmates. “My goal had been that he never go to prison,” said Green’s former attorney, Louis Cherico. “But hopefully, things will work out for him there.”

Green’s attorneys argued that because their client suffered permanent neurological damage after a hit-and-run accident, he should be spared prison and placed on probation to continue long-term rehabilitation.

In February 2007, just weeks before he was to report to prison, Green was struck by a hit-and-run driver after leaving a Hell’s Kitchen nightclub. He emerged from a coma after 40 days but was unable to manage his real estate empire, walk without assistance or even care for himself.

Edward Kratt, another of Green’s attorneys, said Green exhibited “childlike” behavior, ripped apart bedsheets with his teeth in frustration and mistook Kratt for Joe Torre, the former New York Yankees manager who was a friend of Green’s.

But U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew ruled against requests for leniency, signing an order last week that Green should begin serving his sentence as soon as a bed in an appropriate medical facility became available. Two days later, on May 14, Green reported to the Minnesota prison, a 64-acre former state mental hospital in Rochester.

The Rochester facility has also been home to Assemblies of God televangelist Jim Bakker, U.S. Rep. James Trafficant Jr. of Ohio, presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche and Omar Abdel-Rahmman, the blind Egyptian sheikh convicted of conspiracy in the wake of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Green pleaded guilty in 2006 to using a phony Social Security number in his application for a $9.04 million loan to buy the Amberwood Apartments north of Tampa, and to failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2001, when his personal income exceeded $3.1 million.

Once listed as one of the 10 worst landlords in new York City, Green racked up the largest code enforcement fines in Hillsborough’s history at Amberwood. After a fire, officials were forced to shut down the 212-unit complex, displacing dozens of tenants, and Green walked away from the property after Wells Fargo foreclosed on Green’s mortgage loan.

Bucklew sentenced Green to 33 months behind bars and ordered him to pay $4.11 million in restitution, the loss taken by Wells Fargo after it sold the Amberwood Apartments.

Although Green reported a net worth of $77 million when sentenced, he has been unable to meet court-ordered restitution payments. By the early part of this year, Green had made a little over a third of the restitution, about $1.51 million.

Green sold off about $100 million worth of his Tampa-area apartments in 2006, while he was under investigation by the U.S. government. After his conviction, restitution payments trickled in, even as a Nantucket home was transferred to his mother and a Fort Lauderdale home, a jet plane and 11 luxury autos owned by Green were all sold in 2008.

Executives at Green’s real estate company said the declining economy made it impossible to liquidate Green’s holdings profitably, in part because Green’s apartment properties were so highly leveraged. Two years ago, Green held $222 million in assets, including 24 apartment complexes, but they were encumbered by $209 million in mortgages.

In April, Green’s attorneys said his assets had dwindled to an art collection worth perhaps $250,000. The lawyers said Green’s mother would need all her assets, including the $1.4 million Nantucket home transferred to her, to pay for Green’s medical treatment since he would be unable to earn a living “for the remainder of his lifetime.”

Jeff Testerman can be reached at testerman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3422.

New York millionaire and notorious Tampa landlord Steven Green starts prison term 05/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 12:41am]

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