Lee Farkas found guilty of ‘one of largest bank frauds in history’

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

When the indictments were handed down, Blake’s general manager said there were no plans to close down the gay bar located in the heart of Midtown.

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 manager.

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

CPMG, LLC, a Georgia corporation, is now doing business as Blake’s on the Park, according to the minutes of a March 2010 meeting of the Atlanta License Review Board.

CPMG, LLC, was created in April 2003, according to the Georgia Secretary of State office. James Nelson was the registered agent. Currently, Michael Sard is the registered agent, Nelson told the GA Voice today.


Blake’s on the Park was not listed among Farkas’ assets for forfeiture in the extensive federal indictment unsealed in June. Farkas lived in Florida and was a donor to Equality Florida, the state’s gay political group, among other causes.

Those documents alleged that Farkas masterminded a complex scheme to prop up his failing mortgage company, described in the June 15 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.

In a pre-trial detention motion filed June 16, federal prosecutors argued that Farkas should not be released from jail because his substantial assets and the fact that he faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted on all the charges make him a serious flight risk.

“As a result of the indictment, the defendant faces a total statutory maximum sentence of 435 years, fines of at least $13.75 million and forfeiture of at least $22 million,” the motion noted.

The document also alleges that in addition to the fraud, 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. It further argues that Farkas has attempted to hide or liquidate some of his assets after finding out about the federal investigations.

“The defendant has recently quit claim deeded multiple properties to close associates for seemingly inadequate consideration,” the motion alleges.

According to Forbes, Farkas was found guilty after a two week trial.

Farkas also took the stand in his defense, Forbes reported, and said “that he was only trying to help keep his company stay afloat and that he did not believe that what he was doing was wrong.”

— Laura Douglas-Brown contributed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Blake’s on the Park and CPMG LLC were the same company. The two have no affiliation.