SEC charges senior living executive with fraud, freezes assets

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SEC charges senior living executive with fraud, freezes assets
SEC charges senior living executive with fraud, freezes assets

A South Carolina businessman has been charged with fraud and has had his assets frozen after the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that he diverted funds raised from investors to buy or renovate assisted living and memory care communities and used them for other purposes.

Between July 2014 and September 2015, according to the complaint, Dwayne Edwards and his business partner, Todd Barker, and the limited liability companies they set up to serve as borrowers, raised nearly $62 million through nine separate municipal bond offerings.

Edwards, the commission said, improperly commingled at least $3.9 million from the offerings and the revenues of the communities underlying them. Each of the offerings was supposed to finance a particular assisted living or memory care community in Alabama or Georgia, according to the government, but Edwards allegedly diverted the money for personal use and to finance other unrelated bond offerings.

“As alleged in our complaint, investors thought they were investing in a single senior housing project, while their money was actually being used to fund an ever-expanding web of affiliated facilities and the personal expenses of Edwards and his friends and family,” Andrew M. Calamari, director of the SEC's New York regional office, said in a statement.

The commission told a judge Jan. 20 in federal district court in New Jersey that it sought emergency action in the case because Edwards has continued to commingle facility revenues as recently as November 2016, and he still controls the revenue and operations of two of the communities named as defendants in the case.

The SEC's complaint also charges Barker, who has agreed to a bifurcated settlement. Monetary sanctions against Barker will be determined later, the SEC said.

In addition to Edwards and Barker, other defendants named in the complaint include limited liability corporations Senior Solutions of Social Circle, Oxton Place of Douglas, Oxton Real Estate of Douglas, Rome ALF, Savannah ALF, Gainesville ALF, Waterford Place ALF, Montgomery ALF, Columbus ALF and Opelika ALF.

The court appointed a temporary receiver over the communities. Assets of certain relief defendants also were frozen.

Eight of the offerings in the case involved purchases from the former CEO, president and director of Global Healthcare REIT, Christopher Brogdon of Atlanta, who is named as an “other relevant actor” in the case. As the result of a separate case, Brogdon is in the process of repaying more than $86 million to investors after he reportedly misused their funds, which had been raised to purchase and renovate senior living facilities, the SEC noted in its complaint.

McKnight's Senior Living was unsuccessful in its attempts to contact Edwards and Barker. A spokeswoman at one of the communities named in the complaint said that she was not familiar with the case and would find out more. She had not responded further as of press time. This article will be updated as new information becomes available.

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