New York fund manager pleads guilty to Belize airport scam

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York investment manager pleaded guilty on Wednesday to running a $21.9 million fraud in which he falsely told dozens of investors their money was being used to build an international airport in Belize, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Brent Borland, 48, a principal at Borland Capital Group, pleaded to one count each of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla in Manhattan, the Justice Department said.

The fraud counts each carry a maximum 20-year prison term. A federal public defender representing Borland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said Borland promised double-digit rates of return for providing temporary “bridge” financing for the airport in Placencia, roughly 110 miles (177 km) south of Belize City, and secured by real property in Belize.

Instead, authorities said the Sag Harbor, New York and Delray Beach, Florida, resident diverted roughly $6 million to himself and his family for such expenses as credit card bills, mortgage payments on a Florida mansion, a beach club membership, a Mercedes-Benz SUV and private school tuition for his children.

Prosecutors said Borland’s scheme ran from 2014 to March 2018, and all of his known investors lost money. Borland was criminally charged last May. His sentencing is scheduled for June 21.

The case is U.S. v. Borland, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-cr-00487.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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