A plea deal could be in the works for former Myrtle Beach lawyer Mark Brunty, who is accused of stealing $700,000 from a pair of would-be investors in phony real estate deals.
Lawyers in the federal wire fraud case met Wednesday in Florence to discuss the status of a planned jury trial for Brunty, who was suspended from his law practice in November 2012. Details of that suspension have not been made public. Brunty was indicted a year later on four felony wire fraud charges.
Lawyers on Wednesday agreed to delay Brunty’s trial until at least the March 24 term because of extensive paperwork involved in the real estate deals at the heart of the case.
The lawyers also told Judge Weston Houck that they are working on a possible plea agreement with Brunty. Details of the proposed agreement were not released in court documents.
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Brunty, who is being represented by a public defender, is facing up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the four counts of wire fraud. He is free on a $25,000 unsecured 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.
An indictment in the case does not specify how the alleged wire fraud took place, but information in the document is identical to charges Brunty faced in a civil lawsuit filed last year by brothers Morris and Saul Kravecas. In that lawsuit, the Kravecas brothers alleged 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 brothers to invest in phony business deals.
The Kravecas brothers sent $700,000 to Brunty through four wire transfers that were supposed to be held in Brunty’s trust account. When the deals failed to materialize, the brothers learned that Brunty had used the money for personal expenses, according to the lawsuit.
The brothers in December obtained a nearly $1.5 million judgment against Brunty and his law firm for actual and punitive damages.