Indictment: Couple used investor money to buy yacht, Washington Depot homes

Indictment: Couple used investor money to buy yacht, Washington Depot homes

EB-5 Visa, EB5 Visa, EB5 Investments

A federal grand jury in New Haven added tax evasion to the list of charges against a couple accused of defrauding investors to buy two Washington Depot properties and develop a Palm Beach hotel.

Robert Matthews, 60, and Maria Matthews, 48, who live in Connecticut and Florida, were indicted on Friday for failing to pay federal income tax they owed for 2005 and 2007, according to a release from the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut.

The tax evasion charge is the 21st count against Robert Matthews, who was indicted in March on fraud and money laundering offenses. Leslie Evans, 71, a real estate attorney from Palm Beach, Fla., was also charged in the scheme.

The indictment accuses Robert Matthews of defrauding investors in his attempt to develop The Palm House Hotel in Florida.

He and Evans are charged with using money investors gave through a program called EB-5, which allows foreign nationals to earn green cards by contributing to development projects in the United States, for personal means, according to the release.

The money helped Robert and Maria Matthews pay off their credit card debt, buy a 151-foot yacht and purchase two properties in Washington Depot, according to the indictment. Robert Matthews had previously lost one of the homes to foreclosure.

Middlebury resident Gerry Matthews, who is the brother of Robert Matthews, and Nicholas Laudano, a construction contractor for The Palm House Hotel, were also accused of being involved in the scheme.

Gerry Matthews had previously waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Laudano has also waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and illegal monetary transactions. They await sentencing.

Robert and Maria Matthews are scheduled to be arraigned in court in New Haven at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The tax evasion charge carries a maximum five-year prison term, but bank and wire fraud charges against Robert Matthews each carry a maximum 30-year prison term.


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