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Miami beach developer facing criminal arrest

Posted on August 28, 2009 3:00 AM EST

Miami Beach developer Michael Stern is facing arrest for failing to appear in federal court for his bankruptcy case. Additionally, Stern has also refused to produce documents and testify in the bankruptcy case. Creditors and former business partners are accusing him of real estate fraud among the many accusations. Stern is also the key witnesses in Miami Beach City Hall bribery case. His testimony led to the arrest of three city hall employees who are currently facing fraud, racketeering and bribery charges. Stern paid the building and planning officials more than $100,000 in order to receive approval of his plans to demolish his landmark coral rock house located on Collins Avenue. Miami criminal defense lawyers met with Stern to take his deposition. According to a local Miami criminal lawyer, Stern has failed to appear to complete the deposition.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Mack held Stern in contempt of court for failing to appear at a court appearance last Wednesday. At the hearing, Judge Mack told Stern's Miami lawyer that if he fails to appear again at the next court hearing, he would order him arrested. Stern's Miami lawyer filed papers with the federal court explaining that Stern wants to return to Miami, but cannot travel due to a back injury. "He is not hiding, absconding or avoiding discovery or otherwise. He is simply unable to travel." Stern in currently residing in Uruguay. Stern's doctor provided a note to the court explaining that Stern was suffering from a herniated disc that requires surgery and that he will not be able to travel for 45 to 60 days.

Stern, a Miami Beach real estate mogul, owned dozens of properties on Miami Beach. The South Florida real estate bust has caused him to be served with several foreclosure lawsuits and various other claims. Stern and his wife filed for bankruptcy protection back in February. In the bankruptcy case, Stern and his wife claim to have 52 million dollars in debt. It has been alleged that Stern has assets and properties worth in excess of 65 million dollars. Stern owes 6 million dollars to a Miami Beach women who won a lawsuit against him for real estate fraud. The fraudulent real estate deal involved fake mortgages and forged documents.

Stern's former business partners sued him based on another act of real estate fraud by not disclosing a 4.2 million dollar mortgage on a piece of property they owned jointly. The signatures on the loan documents were purportedly forged. There are several other cases pending against Stern which also allege fraud forgery. Other than facing arrest, if Stern fails to comply with court orders, has bankruptcy case may be tossed out causing him to be responsible for all of his debt.

Missing Miami Beach Developer May Face Arrest, The Miami Herald, August 28, 2009.
Categories: Public Corruption