Prominent Western New York real estate developer Robert Morgan is facing multiple federal charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as money laundering.
The U.S. Attorney's Office of Western New York announced the charges Wednesday. The full 57-page indictment is included below.
Robert Morgan, the founder and CEO of Morgan Communities and Morgan Management, has avoided charges up until this point as four other people of his company were previously indicted. Robert Morgan pleaded not guilty to all charges in Buffalo Wednesday. He was released on $100,000 bond.
Three other men, including Robert's son Todd Morgan, were also indicted in the 114-count federal fraud case. The indictment alleges that the Morgans, along with others, worked to defraud financial institutions and government agencies. Prosecutors say those indicted lied about the company's debt, construction costs, company expenses and funds.
Robert's nephew, Kevin Morgan, and another employee, Patrick Ogiony, have previously pleaded guilty.
In December 2018, Kevin Morgan, who was a vice president at his uncle's company, pleaded not guilty to charges of fraudulently obtaining over $167 million worth of loans. As part of the deal, Kevin Morgan said the fraud was under the direction of his uncle Bob.
“Kevin Morgan didn’t run the business," said Matt Brown, his attorney, back in December. "His actions, criminal — we’re not backing away from that at all — he knew what he was doing, but he didn’t come up with the idea on his own.”
By pleading guilty, Kevin Morgan faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to company websites, Morgan Communities and Morgan Management, both led by Robert Morgan, own 140 properties across 14 states.
One year ago, FBI agents raided the company's Pittsford offices.
Financial expert George Conboy of Brighton Securities suggests new developments under Morgan Communities could come to a screeching halt, which could lead to new developers seizing opportunities.
“It doesn’t appear at this time to be another developer to have the kind of firepower that Morgan has had,” says Conboy. “I can imagine another developer or more than one, rising to that challenge.”
Though Morgan Communities owns dozens of properties spread across Western New York, more so, the nation, Conboy says Rochester will be OK, stating, “Rochester remains a good place to invest and to grow a business. If these projects that are in the works are worthy, another developer will step in and these projects will get completed and these projects will get done."
The high-profile real estate company was involved in many regional projects, including the new Performing Arts Center at Parcel Five. However, the company’s request for a loan to develop the Court Street Apartments in downtown Rochester was shot down by Rochester City Council in November.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo released a statement, saying in part:
"We are learning of the details of this matter at the same time the public is. Imagine Monroe has had no involvement with any of the projects listed in the indictment. Neither Monroe County nor Imagine Monroe have been contacted by investigators at any point. Simply put, the county is not involved, but will continue to monitor the legal process closely moving forward."