Undeveloped Land at Inflated Prices : 3 Indicted for Mail Fraud in Land Sales
Three Orange County men, one of whom headed a consortium put together two years ago to buy brothels in Nevada, were indicted Friday for mail fraud in the sale of undeveloped land in the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino County.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Sharon McCaslin, who presented the case to a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, said Sidney Binder of Newport Beach, Daniel Leffler of Mission Viejo, and Harry Stone, formerly of Orange County, each were charged with 24 counts of mail fraud.
It was Binder who represented a small cartel of doctors who were to put up $2.5 million to buy three houses of prostitution in Winnemucca, Nev. The deal fell through, the bordello owner said, because the money was not forthcoming.
In the indictment returned Friday, Binder and his two co-defendants are accused of forming several companies that sold land parcels at greatly inflated prices by telling investors the area already had streets, water and utilities when in reality the property was undeveloped.
McCaslin said that in some cases the companies did not actually own the property they sold to investors, and in others, prepayments by investors were not set aside to pay existing liens on the land.
Prices charged to investors ranged from two to six times what the companies had paid for parcels, according to the indictment. The defendants are accused in the indictment of making a profit of $1.2 million from their activities in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Known as the Questar group of companies, the firms allegedly involved in the sales include La Englatoria Limited Corp., San Vicente Limited Corp., Tiburon Limited Corp., Kog, Inc., and Questar Marketing International Inc.
The maximum penalty for each mail fraud count is five years imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
McCaslin said Friday’s indictment was the result of a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Postal Service and the Tustin Police Department.