U.S. Accuses Three Men of Mail Fraud in Land Sales
Three Orange County men, including one who headed a consortium put together two years ago to buy brothels in Nevada, were indicted Friday on mail fraud charges 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, were each 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 of the five houses of prostitution in Winnemucca, Nev. The deal ultimately fell through, the owner of the bordellos said, because the money was not forthcoming.
In the indictment returned Friday, Binder and his co-defendants are accused of forming several companies that sold land parcels at greatly inflated prices by telling investors that the area already had streets, water and utilities, when in reality the property was totally undeveloped.
McCaslin said 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 previous existing liens on the land.
Prices charged to investors ranged from two to six times what the companies had paid for the parcels, according to the indictment. The defendants are accused in the indictment of making a profit of $1.2 million from their illegal activities in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Known as the Questar group of companies, the firms allegedly involved in the fraudulent sales include La Englatoria Limited Corp., San Vicente Limited Corp., Tiburon Limited Corp., Kog Inc. and Questar Marketing International Inc.