High­land lux­ury homes de­vel­oper sen­tenced to fed­eral prison for fraud

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - Mid-Hud­son News Net­work

The de­vel­oper of Vine­yard Com­mons, a lux­ury res­i­den­tial com­plex in High­land, was sen­tenced in fed­eral court on Wed­nes­day to three years and one month in prison.

Michael Bar­nett, 47, of Marl­boro, pleaded guilty last Jan­uary to con­spir­ing to de­fraud lend- ers and make false state­ments to the U.S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

The judge also or­dered Bar­nett to for­feit $200,000 in ill-got­ten gains and any in­ter­est in cer­tain spec­i­fied real prop­erty, and to pay $1,334,620 in resti­tu­tion.

Bar­nett had faced up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Vine­yard Com­mons, billed on its Web site as a “lux­ury, main­te­nance­free rental com­mu­nity for ac­tive adults (55+),” has 185 units and was pur­chased in Septem­ber 2013 by TNWB Vine­yard Com­mons LLC.

“Michael Bar­nett abused his po­si­tion as the de­vel­oper of Vine­yard Com­mons to en­rich him­self and de­fraud HUD and his con­struc­tion lender,” said US At­tor­ney Preet Bharara.

Bar­nett, pre­vi­ously of Hopewell Junc­tion, had ad­mit­ted to en­gag­ing in a scheme to de­fraud his con­struc­tion lender and the fed­eral agency to re­ceive hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in kick­backs.

Ac­cord­ing to court ad­mis­sions and al­le­ga­tions, Bar­nett sought kick­backs and in­vest­ments from sub­con­trac­tors and ven­dors on the project and made false state­ments to the project’s lender so he could draw down on the project’s line of credit.

Bar­nett also ar­ranged with two of­fi­cials of a ven­dor who pro­vided rough car­pen­try and lum­ber sup­plies for the project to have the com­pany pay Bar­nett a kick­back in ex­change for Bar­nett’s award of the con­tract on the Vine­yard Com­mons project and other planned fu­ture ones. The bids were in­flated by some $865,000.

Bharara said Robert Lees and Kevin DiCello were will­ing to go along with Bar­nett’s de­mand for the $865,000 to be kicked back to Bar­nett so they could get more busi­ness from Bar­nett in the fu­ture.

Lees, who was con­victed in May, will be sen­tenced in De­cem­ber.

DiCello, who pled guilty in April, will be sen­tenced next Jan­uary.


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