A Naples man indicted on charges he used aliases to illegally flip 235 houses in Ohio agreed not to continue fighting extradition and to answer charges there.
Blaine D. Murphy, 43, of South Golf Drive, signed extradition papers after Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt denied his release on bond following testimony Friday about his aliases.
Murphy was arrested Dec. 23 and was to be arraigned here Tuesday, but it was continued to March. He's being held without bond in the county jail on a fugitive from justice warrant.
"We're just waiting for extradition to take place," said Maria Russo, a spokeswoman for the Cuyahoga Prosecutor's Office in Ohio, estimating it could take 30 days.
At Friday's hearing, Assistant Cuyahoga Prosecutor Gregory Mussman testified it was difficult to track him down because the properties purchased by Bryce Peters Financial Corp., a Nevada corporation they eventually traced to Murphy, used the names Bryce Peters III and Martin J. Franks.
"There was no Bryce Peters," Mussman said during questioning by Assistant State Attorney Dave Scuderi. "There was no Martin D. Franks, as well. Technically, we're not even certain Blaine Murphy is Blaine Murphy."
Mussman said it was a cooperating witness, one of Murphy's employees, who confirmed Murphy was Franks and Bryce.
From 2005 to 2010, Murphy is accused of trying to make a quick profit on foreclosures and short sales in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas. Ohio prosecutors say he purchased homes sight unseen, leaving a trail of delinquent taxes, code violations and condemned houses that blighted and devalued neighborhoods.
His company was cited for 53 severe code violations since 2008, prompting fines of $9.5 million.
The Ohio indictment alleges Murphy signed deeds as Bryce Peters III for the company, then used the other alias, Franks, as a witness to that signature.
The 15-count indictment list charges that include forgery, tampering with records, mail fraud under Ohio's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and money laundering.
Defense attorney Donald Day had asked that he be released on $250,000 bond, but Ohio prosecutors sought a $3 million bond and Scuderi argued none should be granted after Mussman called him a flight risk.
"We don't know how to stop him from assuming a new alias," Mussman testified. " He'd just adopt a new alias and disappear."
Murphy testified that he has family n Naples — his partner of 23 years — and had lived here seven years, six at Largo Condominiums on Second Street South.
His partner, Joseph Anthony Farina, 43, was not in court and has declined to comment.
Nevada records list Peters as vice president of Bryce Peters Financial Corp., but his business license there expired in January 2011. Nevada officials have said they've received no complaints.
His Cleveland attorney has contended Murphy is being blamed for the actions of those who purchased properties from him.
Although Murphy has purchased properties in Collier County, records don't indicate any problems here, except a $121,313.08 IRS lien.
His home was purchased under the name Gibraltar Trust Servicing LLC and 722 Golf Drive Trust. State records show Gibraltar Trust Servicing, which listed a business address he'd used in Naples, was dissolved three years after the 2007 purchase; there are no records for the other trust. Prosecutors hope to seize the house and other ill-gotten gains.
Records show he's filed for bankruptcy three times, had similar legal problems involving loans in New Jersey in the late 1990s, faces lawsuits in Detroit over similar land flips and was sued in federal court last month by a Mississippi leasing firm.