NAPLES — A Naples man who still faces criminal fraudulent house-flipping charges in Ohio was fined $500,000 this week for housing code violations involving 15 dilapidated properties in Cleveland.
Blaine Murphy, 43, identified himself as the principal officer of Bryce Peters Financial Corp., a broker of vacant houses, and pleaded no contest to the code charges in Cleveland Housing Court, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
A judge found the company guilty and ordered it to pay the city $250,000 by Dec. 14 to cover nuisance abatement and demolition costs the city already paid, according to the newspaper, which said the judge also fined the company another $250,000 for code violations, ordering it to pay 10 percent immediately and agreeing to reduce the remainder if the company fixes the violations and takes responsibility for the properties.
The FBI has seized Murphy's passport and is investigating Bryce Peters Financial, which was licensed in Reno, Nev., at an address that turned out to be a post office box at a storage facility, the newspaper reported.
Until his arrest here in December, Murphy was living at Largo Condominiums on Second Street South with his partner of 23 years, Joseph Anthony Farina, 43, who has declined to comment.
Murphy, who has used numerous aliases, including Bryce Peters III and Martin J. Franks, was arrested Dec. 23 and later was extradited to Cleveland after being indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. The 15-count indictment charges him with using aliases to illegally flip 235 houses in Ohio.
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.
Since 2008, his company was cited for 53 severe code violations, prompting fines of $9.5 million.
The indictment alleges Murphy signed deeds as Bryce Peters III for the company, then used the other alias, Franks, as a witness to that signature. He also faces charges that include forgery, tampering with records, mail fraud under Ohio's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and money-laundering.
His Cleveland attorney has said Murphy was being blamed for the actions of those who purchased properties from him.
Although Murphy has purchased properties in Collier County, records don't indicate problems here, except a $121,313.08 IRS lien. 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 year by a Mississippi leasing firm.