Backroom deal suspected as Turkish agent buys foreclosed Gulen school propertyApril 6, 2013
In 2012, the Atlanta-area Fulton Science Academy (FSA) borrowed $19 million to buy land to expand their campus. FSA quickly defaulted, and Wells Fargo sued them. On Feb. 5, the land was sold at a foreclosure auction for $3.2 million according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The winning bidder? A recently incorporated company called “TruGlobe,” with three Turkish officers, who were somehow able to come up with over $3 million on the day of the foreclosure sale, at which cash or cashier’s checks are normally required as immediate payment.
Both the Fulton Science Academy and TruGlobe have addresses in Alpharetta, Georgia. The similarities between the entities indicate probable collusion between the Gulen charter school and the winning bidder prior to the sale. It is worth noting that bid rigging at foreclosure auctions is a growth area for criminal activity.
The website Roots in Alpharetta was the first to expose the “amazing coincidence” of the buyer’s Turkish identity:
Did a Fulton Science Academy benefactor purchase their land?
February 6, 2013
Has a Fulton Science Academy benefactor swooped in to save the embattled school’s construction project? Perhaps.
FSA’s stalled construction project off Westside Parkway was sold in a foreclosure auction this past Tuesday. WSBtv reported this week via twitter that a firm by the name of TruGlobe Inc purchased the land on the courthouse steps for $3.2 million.
TruGlobe is based here in Alpharetta, according to records at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Principals with the company appear to be of Turkish descent and have ties to the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce.
Or it could all be an amazing coincidence. This blogger bets that the FSA will pursue a new state charter and attempt to revive their plans for new campus.
Indeed, the registered agent and chief financial officer of TruGlobe is listed as Ahmed Vehbi Ugur, a young man who describes himself as a board member of the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast. Ugur is also registered as the CEO of the Maress Corporation, a Turkish kitchen appliance business with an Atlanta office.
The Fulton Science Academy belongs to a network of troublesome charter schools under the direction of Fethullah Gulen, an activist who seeks to replace the formally secular government in Turkey with a sharia-dominated Islamic caliphate. Gulen schools have undertaken an influence peddling and crony contract scheme in Texas, improper financial activities in Georgia, were denied a charter in Virginia, and are currently under an FBI investigation for kickbacks.
Fulton County itself has recommended early revocation of FSA’s charter due to educational and financial shortcomings. The State Board of Education of Georgia may consider such a suspension when it meets this month.
UPDATE—April 8, 2013: A colleague has noted that the Turkish parties in this case appear to have acquired a $19 million property for a fire sale price of $3 million, short-changing Wells Fargo and the Development Authority of Alpharetta by $16 million in the process.
Technically, the full $19 million debt owed by Fulton Science Academy has not been extinguished by the foreclosure sale to TruGlobe. Wells Fargo could have pursued a confirmation of deficiency proceeding against FSA for the $16 million still owed. However, banks often drop such legal action because borrowers rarely have the money to make up the difference between the value of the property and the auction sale price, and the banks would prefer to get the property off their books. If Wells Fargo pursued the issue, FSA could simply declare bankruptcy.
Moreover, if Wells Fargo intended to pursue the $16 million deficient amount through a lawsuit, it should have done so within 30 days of the foreclosure sale. That date has passed, and there is no indication that Wells Fargo has filed suit.
In other words, Fulton Science Academy appears to have gotten away with stiffing the bank and the Alpharetta Development Authority for $16 million while enabling its TruGlobe associate to purchase the same property at 15 percent of the original loan amount. FSA’s misrepresentation of their ability to repay the loan and conspiring with a straw buyer to purchase it on their behalf is clearly unethical, and although it would be nearly impossible to prove, these activities could constitute a possible mortgage fraud case.
Correction: The second-to-last sentence above said “15 percent of the original price,” and has been changed for clarity.