Dade Developer Convicted Of Fraud Pleads For Leniency; Dobson Says "What Started Out As A Dream Became My Worst Nightmare"

Monday, April 28, 2014

A developer of The Preserve in Dade County is pleading for leniency on his fraud conviction, saying "what started out as a dream has become my worst nightmare."

Attorney Jerry Summers is asking Federal Judge Curtis Collier to sentence Josh Dobson to between 51-63 months. But prosecutors are asking for a much longer sentence.

The sentencing hearing for Dobson and Paul Gott begins Tuesday morning. It is expected to be lengthy with the defense filing 28 pages of objections to the pre-sentence report.

The initial pre-sentence report put total losses to investors at the Lookout Mountain property near Rising Fawn, Ga. at over $20 million. That has been revised to over $13 million, but prosecutors still maintain the actual loss was over $20 million to seven banks and a number of individuals.

Prosecutors said many investors were told they would get lots without having to pay a down payment or make any payments for up to three years. However, they were later told they were on the hook for the property, which was valued at far less than the selling price.

A jury a year ago found Dobson and Gott guilty on seven of 12 fraud counts. They were found guilty on seven identical counts and not guilty on five other identical counts.

Prosecutors Nancy Stallard Harr and Perry Piper wrote in a 40-page memorandum, "If it was Dobson’s dream to fleece unsuspecting banks and borrowers out of millions of dollars, he succeeded. His nightmare, if it be such, has only occurred because his fraudulent scheme was ultimately discovered by federal agents and he was found guilty by a jury of his peers. Dobson states that it is 'up to this Court though to determine how long until Dobson can put this nightmare behind him.' The government agrees. The Court should impose a significant sentence in order to promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, and adequately deter others who obtain through deceptive schemes money which is entrusted for good."

The prosecutors said, "The factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) call for a sentence of considerable significance in this case. The nature and characteristics of the offense weigh heavily in favor of a lengthy term of incarceration.

"A lengthy sentence is necessary to deter the educated, the responsible, the intelligent, the thoughtful, and the calculated person. By imposing a substantial sentence in this case, this Court can let it be known that other developers and real estate professionals who defraud banks and purchasers will be held responsible. Much of our business infrastructure and tax code is designed to encourage development, and further, to accommodate those who want to borrow money to buy property." 

Prosecutors said Dobson should get more time for not accepting responsibility, for having a leadership role and for allegedly committing perjury in testifying at his trial.

The defense is objecting to a request that the amount of restitution be set at $13,747,770.16.

Defense attorneys are arguing that Dobson and Gott should go free while the case is under appeal. Prosecutors say they should go into custody as soon as they are sentenced.  

The Preserve ultimately wound up in bankruptcy, and much of the scenic land at Johnson's Crook has gone to a conservation group.

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