Facing 78-month sentence, former Miami Dolphin Will Allen seeks 30 months, throws co-defendant under the bus

Will Allen
Former Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Allen, shown stretching before a 2009 game. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Will Allen to 78 months in federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme.

UPDATE: Allen sentenced to six years

Allen, a former cornerback for the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, pleaded guilty to defrauding investors by raising cash for phony loans to professional athletes.

The feds are seeking a 50-month sentence for Susan Daub, a former banker and Allen’s partner in the scheme. Allen responded by seeking a 30-month sentence — and throwing his co-defendant under the bus.

“Ms. Daub was the professional banker at [Capital Financial Partners] and Mr. Allen unequivocally did not have the expertise necessary to deceive her about any aspect of their business,” wrote Oscar Cruz, Allen’s public defender. “In fact, the opposite is likely true as Ms. Daub had the greater ability to quietly siphon money from investors for herself and or members of her family such as Joshua Daub whom she involved in the business.”

The feds want Daub and Allen to make restitution of nearly $17 million.

Allen and Daub are scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, and the feds are breaking out the stories of victims of the scam.

“Most of my retirement funds have been stolen by Sue and Will,” went one testimonial from an unnamed victim. “My retirement lifestyle has been seriously affected.”

Allen’s wife, Roshanda Allen, wrote a letter pleading for leniency.

“I know he realizes what he did wrong and I know he is truly embarrassed and heartbroken,” she wrote.

A few more details trickled out about Allen’s business, including a client list that’s a who’s who of pro athletes.

For instance, Allen said a $1.7 million loan to Karlos Dansby, the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker who once played for the Dolphins, was legit. Allen disputed prosecutors’ assertion that a loan to Dansby was fake.

Allen also made a $250,000 loan to Aroldis Chapman, the former closer for the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, according to court documents.

See more coverage:

Former Dolphin Will Allen: New twist on pro athletes in the poor house

Loan sharking law rarely enforced in Florida

Will Allen stiffed Pro Player Funding on a high-interest loan in 2010. In 2012, he started a company making high-interest loans to pro athletes.

Allen calls Jack Johnson deadbeat, Johnson calls Allen loan shark.

Former Dolphin Bryant McKinnie also defaulted on high-interest loan.

 

Population growth, Trump bump: 3 things to know about Palm Beach County real estate

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Highlights from today’s Rock the Market event, hosted by the Jupiter Tequesta Hobe Sound Council of the Miami Association of Realtors:

Population growth is back: Think traffic is annoying now? It’s likely to get worse. Palm Beach County is projected to see 6 percent population growth in the next half-decade. “We’re going to have a very strong population surge over the next five years,” said Miami real estate analyst Anthony Graziano.

A “Trump bump”: President Donald Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago focus the world’s attention on Palm Beach. Graziano considers that nothing less than free marketing for South Florida real estate. “For better or worse, Palm Beach gets a Trump bump,” Graziano said.

Undervalued real estate? Palm Beach County home prices have rebounded in recent years, but the county remains affordable compared to New York, San Francisco and other big-city markets, said Jay Parker, chief executive of Douglas Elliman Florida. “We are undervalued, and anyone that wants to tell you differently is mistaken,” Parker said.

Losing Palm Beach County agents, Florida’s largest real estate brokerage says 2016 was “soft” year

cb-ap

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate reigned for years as Palm Beach County’s top brokerage by agent count. Now it has dropped to No. 4, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of state records.

Coldwell Banker has 444 agents in Palm Beach County, down from 493 a year ago. Miami-based Keyes Co. is No. 1, with 586 agents, up from 532 a year ago. (Keyes also owns No. 3 company Illustrated Properties Real Estate, which has 492 agents, up from 457 a year ago.)

Coldwell Banker’s declining agent count in Florida has caught the attention of the top brass at the headquarters parent company Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) of Parsippany, New Jersey.

“Florida was soft last year for us from a Coldwell Banker standpoint,” Anthony Hull, Realogy’s chief financial officer, said during an earnings call Friday. “I think that was driven by a combination of attrition issues, which we’re addressing, and the high-end softness, and obviously the foreign buyer was sort of still shocked in 2016 by the dollar improvement that occurred at the end of 2015.”

Hull didn’t disclose details about how the company is stemming the loss of agents. Jim Weix, broker-owner at The Real Estate Co. in Stuart, posits one possibility: Coldwell Banker just poached one of Weix’s agents by dangling a $10,000 signing bonus.

The only catch is that the agent must repay the bonus if he leaves in less than three years. Weix declined to match the offer, which he called “insane.”

After years of dominance, Coldwell Banker finds itself pressured from one side by full-service companies like Keyes and Illustrated Properties, and from the other by 100 percent commission companies, particularly United Realty Group of Plantation. It’s now the No. 2 company in Palm Beach County with 544 agents, up sharply from last year’s 382 agents.

United Realty Group lets agents keep the entire commission and pay just a nominal fee per transaction. Coldwell Banker, on the other hand, typically takes 30 percent of the commission to pay for such services as office space, marketing and training.

As independent contractors, Realtors are free to move from one company to the next in search of a bigger and better deal.

Here’s how the numbers looked when I crunched them a year ago:

Donald Trump’s press secretary: Medical marijuana is OK, recreational weed is very bad

pot

For proponents of Florida’s budding medical marijuana industry, President Donald Trump’s position on cannabis has been a mystery. At a press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered some insight into how the new administration views weed.

“There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Spicer said. “I’ve said before that the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.”

Amendment 2 won in a landslide in the Nov. 8 election, and the medical marijuana measure did surprisingly well in rural, white counties where Trump cleaned up. But Trump has stopped far short of embracing weed. Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are noted drug warriors, and Spicer on Thursday compared recreational cannabis to opioids, even though many medical experts say there’s really no comparison.

While such red states as Arizona, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky have approved medical marijuana, recreational marijuana is mostly confined to such blue states as California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and the District of Columbia, all of which Trump lost. (Alaska is the rare red state with legal recreational weed.)

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Obama administration declined to pursue pot producers and purveyors who operated in accordance with state legalization programs.

Asked by a reporter if the Trump administration would arrest sellers of recreational weed in states that allow it, Spicer said, “I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.”

For pro-pot activists reveling in a dramatic shift of attitudes toward reefer, Trump’s position seems to be a setback.

“It looks like the first shoe is dropping as expected,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Los Angeles Times. “Trump was never all that reassuring on the issue of marijuana legalization.”

UPDATE: Chris Walsh, editorial director of trade publication Marijuana Business Daily, offers this analysis:

“It’s very difficult to parse through Spicer’s language, as his comments were very vague. Still, I think many in the industry have been lulled into a false sense of security. Trump is not afraid to ruffle feathers or go against public opinion, and the (recreational marijuana) industry should be on high alert.”

Building boom, falling vacancies: 5 things to know about Palm Beach County’s warehouse market

mccraney2

Palm Beach County’s warehouse market is in the midst of a mini-boom of new construction. Space is being snapped up quickly, according to Colliers International.

Highlights from the commercial real estate brokerage’s report for the end of 2016:

  1. Overall vacancy rates in Palm Beach County plummeted to 4.2 percent, a nine-year low.
  2. There’s plenty of demand for new space. A million square feet of new space “was quickly absorbed in 2016,” Colliers International said.
  3. Boca Raton reported the lowest vacancy rate at 1.2 percent at the end of the fourth quarter, followed by Jupiter’s 1.5 percent.
  4. Boca has the priciest space, at $14.53 per square foot, followed by Jupiter’s $11.43 per square foot. Countwide average industrial rents rose to $8.37 per square foot.
  5. Some 422,171 square feet of new industrial space is under construction, mostly at Steve McCraney’s Turnpike Business Park in central Palm Beach County.

Feds: Six more months of scrutiny for foreign cash buyers in Palm Beach County

 

Palm Beach County’s banks continue to grow more financially stable. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is requiring stricter oversight of all-cash home sales to shell companies for six more months.

FinCEN said Thursday that its “geographic targeting orders” for $1 million property sales in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties will stay in effect for an additional 180 days. The feds require U.S. title insurance companies to reveal the individual behind all-cash, high-end real estate transactions. For South Florida, that means any deal of $1 million or more.

Nearly a third of cash deals FinCEN has scrutinized over the past year involve a party who has been the subject of a suspicious activity report, the document bankers must complete if they suspect shady practices.

The orders “are producing valuable data that is assisting law enforcement and is serving to inform our future efforts to address money laundering in the real estate sector,” FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi said in a statement. “The subject of money laundering and illicit financial flows involving the real estate sector is something that we have been taking on in steps to ensure that we continue to build an efficient and effective regulatory approach.”

In January 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said it would scrutinize all-cash real estate purchases by secretive entities in two areas: Miami-Dade County and Manhattan.

And last summer, the feds said the scrutiny yielded a number of leads — and they extended the oversight to Broward and Palm Beach counties, along with all five boroughs of New York, five counties in California and one in Texas.

All-cash shell-company deals are “highly vulnerable to abuse for money laundering,” the feds said.

FAU researchers develop 15-minute test for Zika

Brazil Zika War on Mosquito

During last year’s Zika scare, Palm Beach County OB-GYNs griped that pregnant women waited as long as four weeks to get test results from state labs.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University say they have a solution. FAU scientists are working on a quick-and-inexpensive test that would produce results in just 15 minutes and cost $5 or less.

FAU said Wednesday that its researchers landed a $199,280, one-year grant from the Florida Department of Health to perfect their test, which uses saliva or urine rather than blood and looks for Zika antibodies rather than a viral genome.

Waseem Asghar, assistant professor at FAU’s Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is lead investigator for the project. He envisions the test being used in doctors’ offices and at airports.

“We should know whether someone has Zika,” Asghar said. “That’s very important.”

While there’s no cure for Zika, an infected person can cut the risk of transmission by engaging only in safe sex. And public health officials closely monitor case counts to determine whether to spray for mosquitoes or post travel warnings.

Asghar expects the test to be ready for market for the 2018 mosquito season. For now, he said, the focus is on public health rather than profits, although Asghar said he might launch a startup to commercialize the Zika test.

“We have not really thought much about the business, or how we would take it to market,” Asghar said.

Today, Zika testing is conducted by using a polymerase chain reaction machine to look at blood samples. The bulky equipment must be operated by a skilled technician.

Once an obscure virus, Zika morphed into a health scare last year after an outbreak of brain-damaged babies in Latin America. For most people, the mosquito-borne Zika virus poses little threat. Only 20 percent of those infected show symptoms, and the ailments tend to be mild and fleeting. But Zika can infect unborn babies and cause severe brain damage.

Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, an urban pest whose numbers soar during the rainy months and fall during the dry season.

Public health officials warn that Zika could return next summer.

“People are expecting that the virus will come again,” Asghar said. “Our goal would be to prepare for that.”

 

 

Tenet buys Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center real estate from landlord

pbg-health

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, or at least the real estate where the hospital operates, has a new owner.

Tenet Healthcare paid landlord HCP Inc. $43.4 million for the 282,000-square-foot facility on Burns Road, according to property records. HCP is a California-based real estate investment trust that specializes in medical facilities.

The companies also recorded a lease termination that took effect last week. Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is in the midst of a $16 million renovation.

The Palm Beach County Property Appraiser records no previous sale price for the hospital, but HCP says in its latest annual report that it paid $24.9 million for the facility in 2011.

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare operates 10 hospitals in Florida, and the 199-bed Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center was the only one it leased rather than owned, according to the company’s latest annual report.

Palm Beach County home prices, sales in holding pattern

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Palm Beach County’s home prices and sales volumes are in a holding pattern, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.

The median price of a house sold in January was $310,000, down a bit from December but up 9 percent from a year ago. House sales totaled 1,146, also down from December but up from a year ago.

The supply-and-demand balance continues to shift away from the strong buyer’s market of recent years. There was a 5.3-month supply of houses for sale last month, up 10 percent from a year ago. And the typical listing needed 57 days to find a buyer willing to sign on the dotted line, also up 10 percent.

As for condos and townhouses, the median price of a unit sold last month was $150,000 — the lowest level since February 2016.

The Realtors Association also releases city-by-city breakdowns of median price. Here are the regions that reported 50 or more sales last month — and a caveat that the median price combines houses and condos:

  • Boca Raton: $306,000, up 7.4 percent from January 2016.
  • Boynton Beach: $221,500, up 8.1 percent from January 2016.
  • Delray Beach: $180,000, up 33.3 percent from January 2016.
  • Greenacres: $125,505, up 9.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Jupiter: $335,750, up 3.8 percent from a year ago.
  • Lake Worth: $207,500, down 3 percent from a year ago.
  • Palm Beach County: $238,000, up 5.8 percent from a year ago.
  • Palm Beach Gardens: $334,250, up 6.1 percent from a year ago.
  • Wellington: $339,000, down 5.8 percent from a year ago.
  • West Palm Beach: $160,000, up 6.7 percent from a year ago.

 

 

Palm Beach County’s housing affordability slides a bit in fourth quarter

house money

Palm Beach County homes grew slightly less affordable in the fourth quarter, according to a report by the National Association of Home Builders.

According to the study, 58 percent of houses and condos sold in Palm Beach County were affordable to a typical family. That’s based on income of $65,400 and a median price of $235,000. In the third quarter, 58.9 percent of homes were affordable.

Syracuse, New York, was the nation’s most affordable market. Nearly 93 percent of homes sold there in the fourth quarter were affordable to a typical family. In San Francisco, just 7.8 percent of homes that traded in the fourth quarter were affordable.

Of course, there are many ways to measure affordability. In a separate study last week, the National Association of Realtors ranked Florida as one of the nation’s least affordable housing markets because of the lack of homes available in entry-level price ranges.