January 9, 2018
By Bob Coleman
Editor, Coleman Report Special Edition
Special Fraud Friday Tuesday Edition — Nik Patel Arrested Fleeing US in Chartered Jet
Facing over 20 years in prison at a sentencing hearing originally scheduled for today, USDA Business & Industry loan $179 million fraudster Nik Patel got the bright idea to skip town and charter a plane to Ecuador last weekend.
The FBI isn’t that stupid.
They were waiting for him at Kissimmee Gateway Airport on Saturday. Seems Nik tried to use an India passport to get out of town.
Today Nik Patel, 34, is sitting in a federal penitentiary facing a long, long, long time in jail for selling fake USDA b&i hotel loans to the secondary market.
Writes our friend Paul Brinkman of the Orlando Sentinel;
Patel was a high-rolling owner of First Farmers Financial who was buying up hotels in Orlando and other cities. He also invested in restaurants, including Mingo’s in downtown Orlando. He hosted Gov. Rick Scott at his home for a campaign fundraiser in April 2014; he donated personally to the campaigns of Scott and other local politicians. But Patel’s world collapsed a few months later as the FBI filed criminal charges.
Investigators have recovered about $100 million by selling off Patel’s hotels, cars and other property. But the scope and damage of his alleged crimes widened over time too. Mingo’s closed almost immediately, leaving a hole in the landlord’s finances. Pennant Management also closed. Retirement funds that invested through Pennant reported losses.
Others who invested with Pennant have claimed losses directly tied to the Patel allegations, including the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund, which sued the USDA for $50 million. The USDA has denied responsibility for the fake loans.
Patel is accused of using Pennant’s money to buy five hotels, three in Orlando, and personal luxury items. The hotels were auctioned off to raise $80 million.
Patel bought five hotels and several other properties with the money from the alleged fraud. He paid just over $4 million for the biggest home, at 9850 Laurel Valley Drive on the shores of Lake Butler, near Windermere. The area is home to many celebrities and CEOs. A sale on that home closed in 2015 for $3.25 million.
Read our previous reporting: