MYRTLE BEACH — Suspended Myrtle Beach lawyer Mark Brunty, accused of stealing $700,000 from a pair of would-be investors in real estate deals, was arraigned on fraud charges Wednesday in federal court in Florence.
Brunty, who entered a not guilty plea during the court hearing, is facing four felony charges of wire fraud related to a scheme in which he allegedly used fraudulent and forged documents to steal the money from two brothers living in New Jersey and Florida.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Brunty, who was suspended from his law practice in November, is free on an unsecured $25,000 bond while he awaits trial.
In addition to the bond, Brunty was ordered to surrender his passport and is not allowed to leave South Carolina without prior approval from the U.S. Probation Office. Brunty also must submit to random drug testing and could be ordered to participate in a substance abuse therapy and counseling program, according to court filings. Brunty will be represented by a public defender and a pre-trial conference is scheduled for Monday in Florence.
An indictment issued last month does not specify how the alleged mail fraud occurred, but information in the document is identical to charges Brunty faces in a civil lawsuit filed in March by brothers Morris and Saul Kravecas. That lawsuit alleges that Brunty forged the names of Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc. President Jim Apple and Alec Elmore, the vice president of First Federal Savings & Loan in Charleston, on documents used to persuade the Kravecas brothers to invest in phony business deals along the Grand Strand.
The Kravecas brothers sent $700,000 to Brunty through four wire transfers that were supposed to be held in Bruntys trust account. When the deals failed to materialize, the brothers learned that Brunty had used the money for personal expenses, according to the lawsuit.
Brunty did not file an answer to the lawsuit and the Kravecas brothers obtained a default judgment against him last month. A damages hearing in the case is scheduled for next week in Conway.
The Kravecas brothers had invested in real estate deals in the past, but not in the Myrtle Beach area, according to their lawyer, Amanda Bailey of Myrtle Beach. Morris Kravecas is a doctor living in the Miami area while Saul Kravecas is a retired corporate executive living in New Jersey.
Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.