Friday, December 25, 2020

Lawsuit claims Miami homebuilder and a ‘band of thieves’ stole millions from customers


Miami Herald
Rene Rodriguez
Thu, December 24, 2020, 10:27 AM EST

A Miami homebuilder has been sued, accused of stealing millions of dollars from his clients to finance his high-roller lifestyle of weekend gambling stints at the Hard Rock Casino, two Rolls Royces and a Range Rover, and a luxury condo in Brickell.

According to a complaint filed in Miami-Dade circuit court late Wednesday, Francisco Mendez, owner of the Miami-based Pioneer Inter-Development real estate developer, overpaid the contractors working on several homes, then demanded they return the extra money to him as a kickback.

There is more of this kind of fraud than people would like to believe,” said John Criste, an attorney at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, the firm representing the plaintiffs. “But the fact that it is prevalent doesn’t make it right. In this instance, Mr. Mendez and his cohorts happened to get caught. They got caught because the instances of fraud in this case are egregious.”


Instead, the construction stretched out for nearly three years while Taylor continued to pay construction-related invoices. In the summer of 2020, Taylor called the subcontractors and discovered a difference between what they were paid and what he was billed. In one instance, he overpaid a concrete contractor $600,000 — money that went to Mendez.

Taylor also discovered he had been billed twice, in the amount of $11,139, by a window subcontractor using identical invoices. He was later billed an additional $44,695 by Pioneer, but the window company had no record of that transaction.


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