Former owners of bankrupt Daufuskie Island resort face new federal charges

Former owners of bankrupt Daufuskie Island resort face new federal charges
Federal indictment accuses two men of defrauding investors out of millions (Source: WTOC)

DAUFUSKIE ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - A new nine-count federal indictment charges two men who once owned a bankrupt Daufuskie Island resort called Melrose Resort.

A grand jury re-indicted JT Bramlette and Anthony Hartman, accusing them of defrauding investors, lenders, the Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office, and the IRS. So far, only Hartman has pleaded not guilty; he did so on Oct. 9.

The indictment accuses Bramlette and Hartman of lying to investors about the financial status of the Melrose Resort in order to raise millions of dollars for improvements at the plantation.

According to the indictment, investors lost all that money. Prosecutors say Bramlette even spent more than a million dollars on personal things like his mortgage, car note, country club dues, and his mistress’s apartment. Bramlette is also charged with falsifying tax records to show he paid more than $500,000 owed in back taxes to prevent the Beaufort County from selling the resort at a tax auction.

Text messages and emails cited in the indictment appear to show that Bramlette and Hartman knew they were in trouble financially, specifically an email where Bramlette emailed Hartman about $500,000 owed in back taxes and said, “I have no idea how to deal with this.” Prosecutors say that’s when Bramlette falsified the tax records.

Another text message in the indictment said Bramlette texted an expletive to Hartman when they were sent a bill for $33,000 in unpaid water bills.

Further, Bramlette is accused of falsifying insurance documents to make a Dutch lender think the resort was insured ahead of Hurricane Matthew.

Prosecutors say the men raised money from investors under the premise of renovating the resort. Instead, they’re accused of using that money to pay the lender to prevent foreclosure. The men are also accused of lying to investors by saying they owned the property well after they lost ownership in the resort.

The last three charges accuse Bramlette of not paying the IRS taxes owed from employees.

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