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Feds investigating Palm Harbor man accused a million-dollar fraud

PALM HARBOR — William Allen said his son's efforts to get millions of dollars in loans seem almost childish in retrospect.

The son, Palm Harbor businessman Marc G. Allen, 49, and an associate are accused in several Tampa Bay lawsuits of forging an astonishing variety of legal documents to obtain up to $5 million in loans.

It's something William Allen said would have been impossible to hide forever.

"I'd never dream that anyone would try to pull such a dumb thing," the father said. "They say you're supposed to forgive. But I don't know if I can ever do that."

The FBI and U.S. Secret Service are investigating Marc Allen and associate Robert Edwards over accusations they defrauded two lenders. In papers filed in civil lawsuits, the men deny wrongdoing.

William Allen, 83, of Woodland Hills, Calif., faces the loss of his $9 million investment in Harbourtowne of Countrywoods, a Palm Harbor condominium complex in which he owns 141 units.

Without his knowledge, Allen said, a forged power of attorney was created to get loans with his interest in Harbourtowne used as collateral. Now a lender is seeking to foreclose.

"My son has ruined my life," Allen said, noting that his Harbourtowne investment was the bulk of his financial worth.

Neither Marc Allen nor attorneys representing him or other parties in the lawsuit returned calls for comment. The FBI and Secret Service do not discuss ongoing investigations.

William Allen, who has suffered from health problems that include hip replacement surgery and prostate cancer, said his son no longer returns his phone calls. And he said he has made hundreds seeking answers.

Allen said the closest he got to an explanation came in an Aug. 12, 2009, letter his son wrote to him saying, "I am in full acknowledgement that I had used your name" to obtain a $1.9 million loan from a Virginia lender.

Allen said he needed the money to pay off debts at Harbourtowne, an excuse his father said was untrue.

"This was my fault, and I will seek to make it right," Allen told his father. "I promise to pay off the loan balance. . . . I do care a lot about you, and I will do whatever it takes to make this right with you."

Marc Allen didn't repay the money. Instead, lawyers say, he obtained another loan of $3 million after forged papers transferred ownership of those Harbourtowne units from father to son.

Marc Allen owns Allen Investment Properties, a company he created to manage the condo units for his father. Tens of thousands of dollars in condo rents went into a company account, the father said. Bank statements show thousands of dollars were spent on purposes having nothing to do with the condos.

Some expenses were legitimate, the father said, but many others are questionable, including charges for restaurants, travel and even a subscription to an online dating service.

William Allen said he has volunteered to help the FBI in its investigation and has turned over documents to investigators.

Allen said he purchased the units at Harbourtowne in 2006 and agreed to allow his son to manage them. He said he had no reason to distrust him. The son had management experience, Allen said.

But in 2009 the father was served with court papers showing that a lender was suing him to foreclose on his condo. That was when William Allen said he first became aware of a problem.

"I was shocked," Allen said. "I could never imagine that someone would use my property to get a loan. It was terrible."

He said lenders should have done more due diligence. Nobody ever called him to verify he had given his son a power of attorney allowing the transactions.

"All it would have taken was one call and I would have put a stop to the whole thing," he said.

William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3432.

Feds investigating Palm Harbor man accused a million-dollar fraud 01/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 7:53pm]
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