MYRTLE BEACH — Former real estate agent and investor Scott Lemons has agreed to plead guilty to one felony charge of mail fraud related to condominium sales at the Ashley Park project in Carolina Forest, according to documents filed in federal court in Florence.
A trial in the case was scheduled to start later this month.
Lemons signed a plea agreement on Thursday and is expected to plead guilty during a court hearing next week. Kevin Robinson, a co-defendant in the case, pleaded guilty in July to one felony charge of mail fraud. Robinson has not yet been sentenced. Both men could face prison sentences of up to 20 years and fines of up to $250,000 apiece. Prosecutors agreed to drop two additional felony charges against the men as part of their plea agreements.
Lemons was the owner of three companies – Gold Coast Resorts, S&L Funding and East Coast Resorts – that were engaged in real estate speculation at Ashley Park while Robinson owned a real estate investment company, according to an indictment in the case. Prosecutors say Lemons and Robinson inflated comparable values of condos in Ashley Park to make it appear to banks as if the ones they were selling were worth more money than their true value.
The two men also falsified employment and income information on buyers’ loan applications and told banks that buyers had made deposits on the condos when no deposits were made, the indictment states. Prosecutors say Lemons and Robinson split the excess proceeds from $920,000 in loans for three Ashley Park units.
The fraudulent transaction to which Lemons has agreed to plead guilty involves a condo sold in January 2008 for $329,500. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., better known as Freddie Mac, foreclosed on the condo unit in 2010.
An affidavit in a separate criminal case states that Lemons was recruited by Myrtle Beach developer Ford Shelley to find straw buyers for Shelley’s Pineapple Bay condo project. Shelley paid Lemons more than $700,000 to find four buyers, who never made a payment on their loans for the condos, according to court documents. Lemons has not been charged in that case.
Shelley is serving a 20-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to mail fraud charges related to the Pineapple Bay project.
Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.