Wednesday ‘American Greed’ episode focuses on Lee Farkas, gay mortgage insider with Atlanta ties

The charges are related to Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., the Ocala, Fla.-based mortgage lending company where he served as chairman and majority shareholder.

Federal prosecutors alleged Farkas created a complex scheme to prop up his failing mortgage company, described in the indictment as “one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the United States,” by misappropriating more than $1 billion in funds from related banks, federal financial institutions, and the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Prosecutors also alleged Farkas “misappropriated over $20 million in TBW funds for his personal use,” including some $2.7 million used as a down payment on a private jet. They also claimed in court documents that Farkas has attempted to hide or liquidate some of his assets after finding out about the federal investigations.

Farkas’ 2010 indictment initially sparked rumors about the fate of Blake’s on the Park, the popular Atlanta gay bar on 10th Street across from Piedmont Park, because Farkas had at one time been among the owners.

Johnny Chisholm, a nightclub owner and party promoter, purchased Blake’s in 2003 from owner Alison Brown.

Thunderflower, LLC, purchased Blake’s on the Park, and the now defunct Atlanta gay bars Blu and WETbar, from Chisholm in 2004, according to a report in Ambush Magazine. Thunderflower, LLC, incorporated in Florida in 2004 with Lee Farkas as a managing member.

In September 2008, Thunderflower closed WETbar but said Blake’s would not be impacted by the decision.

Despite the rumors, Blake’s remained open throughout the Farkas investigation. It is now owned by Blake’s on the Park, LLC, with James Nelson as registered agent, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Farkas lived in Florida and was a donor to Equality Florida, the state’s gay political group, among other causes.


Top photo: Lee Farkas (courtesy Marion County Sheriff’s Department)