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I-Team investigation raised in Senate race

August 12, 2010 7:03:48 PM PDT
A Florida Senate candidate is coming under fire for his business dealings in California. Real estate investor Jeff Greene became a billionaire betting against the subprime mortgage market. Now he is facing tough questions on the campaign trail over a real estate deal of his own.

Greene made more than $500 million investing in risky subprime mortgage securities and buying insurance against their collapse. Now he is in a close race for the Democratic Senate nomination in the key battleground state of Florida, but he's facing tough questions over a real estate deal he did with Jim McConville.

McConville was indicted in May for mail and wire fraud after an I-Team investigation revealed his role in a statewide real estate scheme that ruined the credit of dozens of Bay Area investors and cost others their life savings.

"He has ruined my life," said former McConville investor Cristy Voss. "He has ruined my life and everybody involved. Absolutely."

Greene sold McConville around 100 condos in the Southern California city of Ridgecrest in 2006 -- the same year Greene made $500 million on the subprime market.

According to former investors, McConville used blank deeds provided by Greene to sell 28 of those condos at inflated prices to straw buyers who defaulted, leaving banks and taxpayers on the hook for $34 million in bad loans.

His Senate opponent, Congressman Kendrick Meek, D-Florida, raised the issue during a television debate at WKMG-TV in Orlando earlier this week.

"Mr. Greene talks about the fact he signs the front and back of a paycheck and he also signs 300 blank deeds that enabled fraud," said Meek at the debate.

Greene denies any wrongdoing. He says he regularly signs blank deeds when working through an escrow company, and that his deal with McConville was an "arm's length transaction."

"That McConville matter, this is a guy I never met," said Greene. "I sold a building through a broker, licensed real estate broker with the biggest real estate brokerage firm in the county. They're called Marcus and Millichap. They found this guy McConville. I've never met him. I've never spoken with him. I've never seen him. And so I, this is just, I'm a victim, too. I'm suing him right now because I had nothing to do with this guy."

A spokesman declined to say why Greene is suing McConville for. Greene and Meek are neck and neck in current polls. Democrats are going to cast their primary votes in just over two weeks, on the same day that McConville is scheduled to make his next appearance before a federal judge in Oakland.

This investigation started with a tip. If you have an idea, e-mail us here or call 1-888-40-I-TEAM.


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