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Man accused of vacant land sale scheme tries to get out of jail with reduced bond

Man accused of vacant land sale scheme tries to get out of jail with reduced bond
Posted at 6:01 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 05:36:59-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Investigators said Marvin Scott’s name may have not been on the paperwork but insist he ran an illegal operation that took $1.4 million dollars from more than 100 seniors, with an average age of 79.

During a bond reduction hearing, Scott’s defense attorney Barry Taracks tried to convince the judge to lower the $500,000 bond, so the 55-year-old could get out of jail.

Taracks portrayed his client as a consultant or playing an IT type role in the three businesses accused of running a vacant land sale business prosecutors say bilked over 150 seniors, many of whom were over age 80, according to documents filed in Pinellas County Court.

The criminal case detailed how Scott, Tammy Van Wie and Chamera Bowman ran multiple telemarketing businesses between 2017 and 2020. Consumer Protection investigators claim they would cold call elderly owners of vacant land promising a quick sale after the owner paid upfront fees.

Ann Runyon found out too late that her parents, both in their 80s, lost more than $10,000. Runyon said Nationwide Listings in Clearwater contacted her father to say the company had a buyer for an empty lot the family-owned in Arizona. And assuring him that he would get his money back when the deal closed. But, Runyon said, “the money never came.”

In court, Assistant State Attorney Anthony Bradlow argued against lowering the $500,00 bond for Scott who’s charged with money laundering and scheme to defraud. Bradlow said between 2017 and 2020 Scott made over $415,000 off the land sale operation.

According to investigators, Bowman pocketed over $667,000 dollars and Van Wie got over $150,000 from the land sale fraud.

Prosecutors said Scott concealed his name from the business because in 2016 he agreed to pay consumers over $76,000 in restitution to settle a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s office for a similar land sale scheme. That settlement also banned Scott from the timeshare and land sales business.

The 30-minute hearing ended with Pinellas County Judge Susan St. John denying Scott’s request to reduce his bond amount. All three suspects remain in the Pinellas County Jail.

Read our previous investigation, here.