Convicted Brighton Businessman Gets 20 Years in Real Estate Investment Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 23, 2013|
A Brighton businessman was sentenced today to 20 years after having been convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy and multiple counts of wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
U.S. Attorney McQuade was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge John Robert Shoup of the Detroit office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Timothy Warren, Acting Regional Director of the Chicago Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sentenced today was John Bravata, 45, of Brighton, Michigan. John Bravata and his son Antonio Bravata, 25, were convicted after an eight-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman.
The evidence at trial showed that from 2006 to 2009, John Bravata conspired with his son Antonio Bravata to defraud close to 500 investors of more than $50 million, money that largely represented the life savings of investors. In executing the scheme to defraud, John and Antonio Bravata solicited money for their company, “BBC Equities,” by using false and fraudulent statements and promises. These false statements included promises of guaranteed safety of principal and high interest returns. Rather than investing the money in safe real estate transactions as promised, a large portion of the money was used by the defendants to support their lavish lifestyles.
Both John Bravata and Antonio Bravata furthered their scheme to defraud through free lunch seminars that targeted retirees. At these presentations, they not only made false promises of a safe investment, they falsely claimed that they did not get paid unless the company was profitable, that no fees or commissions would be charged or taken on investments, and that real estate was purchased with cash.
John Bravata was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and 15 counts of wire fraud. Antonio Bravata was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
“White-collar criminals may use sophisticated methods, but their crime is nothing more than stealing other people’s money,” McQuade said. “These defendants targeted and preyed upon victims and stole their life savings. Many of these victims are seniors who lack the resources or the time to recoup the loss.”
FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Shoup stated: "These individuals engaged in an investment scheme that stole millions of dollars from hundreds of investors. The FBI is committed to stopping such predatory acts and holding criminals responsible."
In addition to the 20-year prison sentence, John Bravata was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the scheme. The amount of restitution will be determined at a separate hearing.
Sentencing for Antonio Bravata is set for September 25 at 10 a.m.
Co-defendant Richard Trabulsy, 32, of Canton, a former business partner of John Bravata’s, pleaded guilty plea to wire fraud and is awaiting sentencing.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frances Carlson and Karen Reynolds, as well as Special Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Polish. SAUSA Polish was detailed to this case from the Chicago Region of the Securites and Exchange Commission (SEC). The case was investigated by the FBI and the SEC.