Orange County, California – Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos upholds a multi-million dollar judgment and orders two Orange County businessmen to pay $4.5 million including $1 million in punitive damages to Plaintiff Mary Anne Philips (Philips v MRR, LLC et al.,Orange County Superior Court, Case No: 07CC09147).
In a significant finale to a 2008 complaint filed by Newport Beach resident Mary Anne Philips the court found that Robert Burke and Raymond Eschavez deceived Philips into purchasing 40 acres of undeveloped land in Riverside County as part of a real estate investment scam. According to evidence, Burke and Eschavez coerced Philips into investing $1.9 million of her own money for the development of new residential homes. They then secretly began pulling money out of the property without her knowledge. In the end Philips was left holding a worthless piece of undeveloped land and a multi-million dollar encumbrance on her personal residence in Newport Beach.
According to expert testimony the land was not zoned for new residential homes and Burke and Eschavez failed to disclose this fact.
Philip’s attorney Douglas Pettibone said his client, “believed these two were experienced real estate investors and that they would act in good faith to develop the Riverside Property”.
“Fraud promoters, like these two, typically spend a great deal of time and energy to make their schemes appear genuine,” Pettibone said “Fraudulent investments are very similar to legitimate investments, giving the investor a false sense of security”.
Defendants vehemently deny the allegations made by Pettibone and have filed two post trial motions in an effort to set aside the judgment. To date both motions have been denied by Judge Polos. Whether or not Defendants will appeal is still pending.