FORT MYERS, Fla. - Cape Coral realtor Greg Eagle has pleaded guilty to six federal counts of fraud after authorities say he forged documents and cost his investors millions of dollars. Each of the six charges carries a maximum of thirty years in federal prison.
This story begins more than twenty years ago and includes bad financial bets, falsified documents and millions of dollars that were lost.
In June of 1990, 52 investors bought a 101 acre property along Pine Island Road in Cape Coral for nearly $3 million. It was called the Pine Island 101 Land Trust.
Attorney Mark Trank is representing the 52 investors in a separate class-action lawsuit.
"It is good news, we've been waiting for this news for quite a long time," Trank said.
"This was a scheme that (Eagle) engaged in and as result the 50 plus investors in the Pine Island Trust have lost their investment and in many cases people have lost their life savings," said Trank.
In November of 2011, WINK News first introduced you to Dr. Charles Curtis, one of the investors.
"I'm sure it's affecting a lot of people and we would like to know how something like this can happen."
Curtis and other investors came together to buy the land, as they could buy more as a group than individually. Greg Eagle was put in charge of the land trust.
The investors were expecting a big payday when they would eventually sell the land. But that payday never came.
According to his plea deal in federal court, Eagle forged the documents on the trust to take out a $17 million mortgage in order to fund another project. He thought it was a can't-lost deal that would bring a homeland security training facility to Florida. But he did lose. The project fell through and Eagle never paid the loan.
The bank that issued the loan, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, filed for foreclosure on the property.
Curtis and other investors received a letter in the spring of 2011 from Eagle, saying "there is no excuse for what I have done with mortgaging the property for $17 million."
Eagle has also agreed to forfeit all his assets immediately and pay his 52 victims restitution. Though it's not clear how much they'll get, as Eagle lost nearly $40 million when the Homeland Security project fell through.
Meanwhile, Trank expects the class-action lawsuit to go to trial this year. He hopes his investors will at least be able to hold onto the property, which is worth millions.