Shortly after the $100,000,000 Village of Penland development collapsed back in the spring of 2007, I started posting stories on the fiasco in Mitchell County. It didn’t take long to recognize that many of the players in the VOP scandal were also involved in the Grandfather Vistas development in Caldwell County. Of course, several have gone on to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with their fraudulent activities in Mitchell County.
In the summer of 2007, I filed a boots-on-the-ground report from Grandfather Vistas, which was almost as undeveloped and eerily quiet as Penland…when the luxury second-home market was still (barely) alive elsewhere. I understood that litigation had been filed over Grandfather Vistas - between the Peerless partners who were also behind the Penland development – and some South Carolinians marketing the GV project, namely Lee Farthing and Steve Rayburn.
I knew that the banks were out on a limb, having financed overpriced lots at Grandfather Vistas, though not to the extent they had at Village of Penland. It struck me as odd that we would hear about criminal wrongdoing at Village of Penland, but not at Grandfather Vistas. I guessed that the banks had written off VOP as a lost cause (for which they DID eat tens of millions of dollars in bad loans) but held out some hope that the Grandfather Vistas project might be salvageable. Indeed, First Charter Bank was quick to release a statement in July 2007 that while they were taking a beating at Penland, everything was okey-dokey at Grandfather. http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2007/07/23/story12.html
I had my doubts. Whatever the truth of the matter might be, Grandfather Vistas was under the radar for the past year or more.
But GV has popped up again.
I opened my inbox today to find a link to a story on the Courthouse News Service website, a news aggregator aimed at lawyers. The following was posted on there:
Infinity Real Estate Partners and others cheated 70 people of $22 million in "Grandfather Vistas at Blowing Rock," a development that was fraudulently appraised and never developed, the investors claim in Mecklenburg County Court, Charlotte, N.C.
Here are the defendants in the Infinity Real Estate case: Infinity Partners LLC; Infinity Real Estate Partners LLC; Prudential Source One; Source One Communities LLC; Peerless Real Estate Services Inc.; Blue River Ridge at Blowing Rock LLC; Grandfather Vistas LLC; Anthony Porter; Frank Amelung; J. Kevin Foster; Neil O'Rourke; William Murdock Jr.; Brian Kiser; Jeff Collins; Constitution Law Assoc. nka Nexsen Pruet PLLC; A. Greg Anderson; Anderson & Assoc.; First Charter Bank of NC nka Fifth Third Bank NA; Wachovia Corp.; Suntrust Banks Inc.; Lee Farthing; Steve Rayburn; C. Ashley Campbell; Philip Walton; James Rothrock; and Rothrock Engineering.
As a footnote, I should mention that Donald Trump was toying with the idea of partnering with Infinity on a mega-development in downtown Charlotte...but that was early 2007, and I have no idea whether that materialized or not.
I’ve reposted several Grandfather Vistas items, and the easiest way to access them is to click the "Grandfather Vistas" label at the end of this post.
Closer to home, I have no idea who "turnerkaleeb" might be or why he runs the Stated Income Loan blog, but give him an article from the Smoky Mountain News and some shoddy translation software and you get the following, which I post for its literary merit rather than any new revelations about Domenic Rabuffo’s Little Italy on Big Ridge. But it is the first time I’ve heard of a "defective sporting house" up on the mountain, "prompting the bank to up its arouse now":
Thirteen characteristic owners accused of falsifying their incomes to capture domicile construction loans in the doubtful Big Ridge increase outside Cashiers at sea an appeal in Jackson County Superior Court on Friday. Each of the holdings owners lied about their takings to get a $1.5 million construction accommodation from SunTrust bank, according to court records. By inflating their incomes on their advance applications, it constituted a fault on their mortgages, entitling SunTrust to proceed with foreclosures, Superior Court Judge James Downs ruled.
The bank was also responsible that extension on the construction of the homes was not emotional along adequately and even alluded that the attribute owners were using the ready money from their construction loans for other things. Some houses are not even underway yet.
While the riches owners have kept up with the payments on their loans to date, the bank expressed upset they could destruction behind in the future. If so, the bank would have to foreclose on an defective sporting house good less than what it loaned out, prompting the bank to up its arouse now. Jay Pavey, a Sylva attorney representing the 13 quirk owners, said he does not identify if the suitcase will be appealed again to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
New York City attorney Gavin Scotti also represented the quality owners. His claim hinged on the happening that the bank gave his clients non-income verification loans. Non-income verification loans make allowance someone to apply a credit without having to show test of income.
Scotti said it is "deceptive" for the bank to over the borrowers’ non-income verification loans and then limitation their incomes. Moreover, he said the bank was powerless to substantiate that the borrowers did not cook the profit they said they made. He said the bank was unmistakably unqualified to warrant how much they made.
Scotti also said the borrowers may have other sources of income, such as assets, that they did not divulge. And the borrowers were making all the rate payments on the loans, he said. The bank countered that even though the loans were non-income verification loans, it still had a repay to demonstrate the incomes.
"The borrower has to be sincere on the application, and they were not," Cary Mudge, foible president of SunTrust’s Special Assets Division testified. "I feel they committed fraud." Several months after the loans were issued Mudge sent a line to the 13 borrowers in November 2007 asking them to prove their incomes because the discrepancies were found, but none of them responded.
Attorney for SunTrust Robert Imperial of Raleigh told the court it is "ludicrous" for the bank to resume funding the loans when the chattels owners don’t calculate enough gain to stipend them off. "I consider it’s ease for the court to end this charade," Imperial said. Mudge testified that the funds were to be occupied for construction purposes only, and attorney Imperial went as far as to rephrase that some of the affluence from the loans went into the borrowers’ pockets. Scotti said there is no criterion of that.
In some cases the borrowers had a cooperative bank report with Rabuffo. Imperial said that none of the homes have been completed and some not even started. Who’s in charge? Rabuffo appears to be distancing himself from the project, and some are saying he is no longer knotty in the maturity at all.
According to Pavey, Rabuffo is the "project manager" for the development. Ray Olivier, who says he is overseeing the fling as president of D&R Mountain Contractors of Glenville, says Rabuffo is not the developer. "He’s (Rabuffo) doing nothing on it anymore," Olivier said. "He cast-off to be an advisor. He’s got nothing to do with the enterprise at this point." Pavey said the developer is Rob Hampton and Rabuffo’s ex-wife Mae Rabuffo. Olivier said the at the rear he heard was that Hampton is a pupil at the University of Florida. Rabuffo declined comment.
In another court state tied up to the development, Rabuffo is being sued by Mack Industries of Ohio for without to discharge for the construction of a wastewater curing plant. The lawsuit charges that Mack Industries entered a pucker with Blue Ridge Properties and MOD Engineering "for the provide of erection materials and services for the repair of property."
The lawsuit states that Rabuffo is the unique shareholder of Blue Ridge and MOD and that the understanding was breached when pay wasn’t made. The lawsuit states that the defendants be beholden to the plaintiffs $308,827.
• Greg and Melissa Schuetz of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: They stated in their allowance relevance that they had a monthly gain of $25,000 a month with Greg Schuetz’s pain as a proper organize with Chapman Corp. Chapman wouldn’t ally how much Schuetz made, but a emolument assay on Salary.com indicated that non-military engineers in the Fort Lauderdale zone put together between $51,000 and $77,000 a year. They be indebted to SunTrust $593,953.
• Jeffrey Sykes of Dunedin, Fla.: Sykes said he made $29,000 a month on his loan application, but the bank discovered that he made $8,500 a month.
The bank contacted Sykes who said he pink that concern and was currently employed with Sterling Payment Technologies making $5,750 a month. He owes SunTrust $557,576.