Former Vero Beach Attorney Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Eric Granitur, a former Vero Beach real estate and probate attorney, was sentenced yesterday in the Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach Division) to twelve months and a day in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
Granitur was convicted by a federal jury in June of two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy for a mortgage fraud scheme he was involved in for nearly a decade. From 2006 to 2009, he and two indicted co-conspirators ran a mortgage fraud scheme against lenders by covering up incentives offered and paid to buyers of condominium units at the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa in the 3500 block of Ocean Drive. Granitur hid and misrepresented the amount of paid seller incentives, which included cash rebates and seller-provided cash deposits, federal officials said.
The scheme caused financial institutions to fund mortgage loans, totaling more than $20 million, according to federal investigators.
According to the DOJ Press Release: “Granitur’s title company, Live Oak Title, conducted the closings for the sales of the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa condominium units sold to [co-conspirator] buyer McKenzie. As an escrow agent, Granitur was required to truthfully and accurately prepare and distribute a settlement statement to the financial institutions, known as a “HUD-1,” in preliminary form for review by the financial institution, prior to the closing of escrow. The closing statement was required to accurately reflect, among other information, the sales price, the closing funds provided by the borrower and all of the seller’s contributions. As an escrow agent, Granitur was responsible for receiving and holding in trust, in an escrow account, the mortgage loan proceeds from the financial institutions that financed the purchase of the condominium units, and he was responsible for disbursing those loan proceeds only after final approval by the financial institutions.
On two occasions, involving Vero Beach Hotel and Club condo units sold by Heaton to McKenzie, Granitur knowingly caused a false closing statement to be transmitted to a federally insured financial institution. The HUD-1 closing statements failed to truthfully disclose seller credits and incentives. Additionally, the closing statements failed to disclose that the seller was paying the buyer’s “cash-to-close.” The financial institutions relied upon the closing statement in authorizing the release of funds.”
There is no parole in the federal system, but federal sentences over twelve months are eligible for early release based on credit for “good time.” Typically, a federal prisoner will end up serving approximately 85% of their prison sentence.