Would-be developer pleads guilty, ordered to repay funds
August 29, 2013 12:11 AM | 1182 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A would-be real estate developer has pleaded guilty to state racketeering laws and was ordered to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cobb residents who thought they were investing in projects.

Leonard Bryan Nelson, 42, now of Forest, Miss., pleaded guilty last month to the charge of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, for which he was sentenced to serve 10 years on probation and ordered to pay restitution to 22 victims, many of whom had used money from their retirement accounts to invest with Nelson.

After a daylong restitution hearing Tuesday, Cobb Superior Court Judge Greg Poole ordered Nelson to repay his victims $725,000, at 12 percent interest dating to Jan. 1, 2009.

At the request of District Attorney Vic Reynolds’ office, the court also issued a civil judgment as an extra measure to ensure the victims are paid back.

“That judgment lasts forever, and will not expire until (the money) is repaid,” said John Melvin, chief assistant D.A.

Nelson’s first payment of about $6,000 is due Sept. 1. If he misses any payments, he will go to jail.

In 2007 and 2008, Nelson told the 22 victims, some of whom were part of an informal investment club, that he was putting together various real estate deals, including a project in conjunction with the federal government’s Gulf Opportunity Zone Project in Mississippi, and he secured the investments with promissory notes. Then, when the funds were due to be repaid, Nelson told investors he had rolled their money into new and larger deals. Many of the victims had not given permission for such use, and the deals never came to fruition. Nelson also diverted much of the investors’ money for his personal use.

— From staff reports
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