Clearwater condos tied to $300 million scam

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The Clearwater Cay Club was supposed to be something special.  It was special alright, part of a $300 million condo flipping scam that stretched from Clearwater to the Keys to Vegas.

“I just can’t believe that something like this could happen,” investor Laurie McNulty said. Laurie bought a condo at the Clearwater Cay Club in 2005. The sales pitch claimed the Cay Club was going to turn apartments into a 5-star luxury hotel resort. Part of the pitch to out-of-staters focused on an elaborate water park, which was supposed to be built nearby, adjacent to upscale retail projects.

That sounded great, but the problem is no one got permission from the city of Clearwater.

“They were selling snake oil in the form of condominium hotel units. That’s what it boiled to,” Laurie’s attorney Bruce Barnes stated. It also boiled down to Clearwater Cay Club operators flipping the condos to themselves at artificially inflated prices. The scheme also involved bank loan officer Roger Windey, fraudulently pushing through loan applications that contained false information.

According to Bruce Barnes, Clearwater Cay Club also had an appraiser working with it. He provided artificially high appraisals.

“Friends and friends of friends were sucked into this because they trusted the people. In my experience, that’s the common theme whenever you have one of these scams,” Barnes said. The minute Laurie McNulty purchased her condo for $697,000, she was hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole.  According to Barnes, Clearwater Cay Club closed on Laurie’s condo hours before it sold the property to her.  Clearwater Cay Club paid what was closer to the true value, $251,000.

According to Barnes, Clearwater Cay Club closed on Laurie’s condo hours before it sold the property to her. Clearwater Cay Club paid what was closer to the true value, $251,000.

“It’s been bad. I’ve probably cried every night about it,” Laurie said, her voice cracking. Barnes has represented dozens of victims of Clearwater Cay Club.  He took his information to law enforcement.  Federal prosecutors brought a bank fraud charge against Roger

Barnes has represented dozens of victims of Clearwater Cay Club. He took his information to law enforcement. Federal prosecutors brought a bank fraud charge against Roger Windey. Windey pleaded guilty and entered into a plea agreement. He will be sentenced in January. Two other former sales people, Barry Graham and Ricky Stokes entered into plea agreements with the feds in Miami and are serving

Two other former sales people, Barry Graham and Ricky Stokes, entered into plea agreements with the feds in Miami and are serving 5-year terms in federal prison for bank fraud.

There are more charges coming against more involved parties. Barnes has waited for this day for 7 years, but it is bittersweet. “I don’t know of anybody who’s been made whole. The vast majority of the investor victims saw nothing,” he said.

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