A Cape Coral real estate broker received six years in federal prison Tuesday for fraud.
U.S. District Judge John E. Steele sentenced Gregory Wayne Eagle, owner and president of Eagle Realty of Southwest Florida, to 72 months incarceration for four counts of bank fraud and one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud. Upon his release, he will serve five years of supervised release.
"The court decided that six years was an appropriate sentence," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Michelland, who handled the case in the Middle District of Florida, said Wednesday.
"We respect the decision of the court," he said.
Fort Myers attorney Wilbur Smith III represented Eagle in the case.
Smith did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
In 1990, Eagle created a trust agreement for 52 beneficiaries for a property consisting of about 101 acres along Pine Island Road. Called the Pine Island 101 Land Trust, Eagle was named trustee.
According to court documents, Eagle obtained a $2 million mortgage loan in 2002 from Florida Community Bank after claiming that he had full power to mortgage the land and that the beneficiaries had consented. The trust beneficiaries were not aware and had not given authorization to Eagle.
In 2005, Eagle received an extension on the loan under the same pretenses.
One year later, Eagle obtained a mortgage loan for $17.03 million from First National Bank of Pennsylvania. According to court documents, he again claimed that he was in sole possession of the land and had approval. He also submitted a trust agreement naming himself as sole beneficiary.
In 2008, Eagle obtained a renewal of the original promissory note for the loan.
While Eagle paid off the $2 million loan with proceeds from the $17.03 million loan, he defaulted on the second, causing First National Bank to initiate a foreclosure on the 101 acres in October 2009.
According to Michelland, Tuesday's hearing lasted all day.
"It was a continuation of the sentencing hearing from Friday," he said.
Prosecutors took up issue with some of the sentencing guidelines, including the total loss involved, number of victims and offense level, Michelland explained. Based on what Steele found the guidelines to be, Eagle was facing 121 months to 151 months of incarceration - about 10 years to 12 years.
Michelland asked for the court to impose a sentence on the lower end of the guideline range.
"That's what I recommended, but the court did not do that," he said.
There are variances - criminal record, seriousness of offense - that the court looks at.
"There's just a whole bunch of factors that the court can consider," Michelland said.
Sentencing guidelines are no longer set in stone due to a Supreme Court ruling.
"Because they are not mandatory, the court is able to part from the guidelines," he said.
On Tuesday, Steele also ordered Eagle to pay $600 in court costs.
A $600 special assessment was waived by the court.
"He was allowed to self surrender. He was not remanded right away," Michelland added of Eagle.
He must turn himself into authorities on or before Feb. 7.
According to court documents, Eagle must make a full restitution to First National Bank and the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries have not been compensated for the initial payments as interest holders, yearly mortgage, tax, insurance, administrative payments nor the increase in the property's value.
On Tuesday, the restitution hearing was postponed until March 24 at 11 a.m.