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Hillsborough real estate director arrested on federal fraud charges

TAMPA — Anthony Haynes, the director of real estate services for Hillsborough County, was detained on federal mortgage fraud charges Friday morning despite two years of cooperation with the federal government, according to his attorney.

A five-count federal indictment released Friday accuses Haynes of providing false information about his income to purchase nine properties in South Pittsburgh, Tenn. The purchase was unrelated to his county duties, said Daniel Fernandez, Haynes' attorney.

"Two years passed with no activity," Fernandez said. "We were hopeful that the government wouldn't indict him based on the information we voluntarily provided."

Haynes, a 27-year Hillsborough employee, faces charges of mail and wire fraud, said Hillsborough County spokeswoman Lori Hudson. He joined the county real estate office in March 1985 and worked his way up through the ranks. He was promoted to the director position 18 months ago, Hudson said. County officials have known that Haynes was the subject of a federal investigation since May.

He made his initial appearance Friday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Jenkins, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Haynes pleaded not guilty at the hearing, and the judge released him on his own recognizance, Fernandez said.

"This guy is a really good guy. This fellow has been working with the county, married 28 years, two kids — he's been a stellar member of the community his entire life," Fernandez said.

In December 2006, Haynes received loans totaling more than $1 million from SunTrust Bank to buy nine properties in South Pittsburgh, Tenn., by providing false information about his income, the purchase price and other details, according to the indictment.

In May, federal investigators subpoenaed personnel records on Haynes from the county but did not divulge the details of the investigation, said Helene Marks, chief administrative officer for Hillsborough County.

"The federal agents would not disclose the nature of the investigation to us. They did disclose to us that it did not relate to his status as an employee," Marks said. "At that point in time, all we knew was that there was an investigation. We did not know if it would result in action or nonaction."

Upon his indictment Friday morning, Haynes was placed on administrative leave, though whether he will be paid has not been announced, Marks said.

Haynes earns $104,000 annually, according to county records.

Fernandez said a trial date has not been set.

If convicted, Haynes would face a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each charge. According to the indictment, the government also seeks to recover $990,498 from Haynes, the proceeds of alleged mail and wire fraud.

Times staff writer Laura C. Morel and Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Hillsborough real estate director arrested on federal fraud charges 09/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 21, 2012 10:53pm]
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