A Small Victory For William J. McCorkle
October 27, 1997
McCorkle wins round in state investigation
Alex Finkelstein Staff Writer Orange Circuit Judge W. Rogers Turner has ruled McCorkle may use up to $300,000 from a court-controlled $1 million escrow account to pay pending claims from disgruntled purchasers of his video tapes and instructional printed materials.
A controversial real estate promoter and local infomercial star has won a round in a yearlong fraud and money laundering investigation being conducted by Florida Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth.
The bulk of William and Chantel McCorkle's assets have been frozen since May 9 of this year, when federal agents raided their million-dollar Seminole County home and seized financial records of their eight firms.
The couple has been trying unsuccessfully in state and federal court pleadings to retrieve those records and regain access to their funds. In separate court rulings in Orlando and in the Cayman Islands, the McCorkles appear to have partially succeeded:
The couple may withdraw $2,000 in Cayman dollars, equal to about $1,600 U.S. dollars, from an estimated $2 million legal war chest to pay prominent lawyer F. Lee Bailey and his West Palm Beach law firm for fees and costs involved in the McCorkles' legal battles there.
The rulings are hailed as a breakthrough by Bailey, who wrote in an Oct. 14 letter to the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida that, "This lawsuit had been filed in November 1996 and has been dormant ever since. When challenged to provide a factual basis for the lawsuit, the office of the attorney general asked that it be dismissed."
That's not how Lisa M. Young, the Orlando-based assistant attorney general who is prosecuting McCorkle and his 5-year-old empire, sees it. "I don't call that a big win," says Young. "The investigation is ongoing."
At the heart of the inquiry is McCorkle's flamboyant real estate sales promotions. In infomercials and printed ads, the boyish entrepreneur touts his estate home, stable of luxury cars and opulent lifestyle as available to anyone willing to buy his plans for buying and reselling properties, mostly residential homes, in foreclosure.
Among the advice: Solicit senior citizens to cash in their bank-issued certificates of deposit and reinvest the funds in buying foreclosed properties.
State and federal authorities have alleged the McCorkles were engaged in money laundering and laundering of money instruments, and mail, wire and bank fraud.
The justice department for the Cayman Islands, where the couple once held a $7 million account, is also investigating the allegations, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty the Caribbean country struck with the United States.
Meanwhile, McCorkle's lead company, Cash Flow Systems Inc., continues to operate from its Edgewater Drive offices. But even with the recent court wins, the McCorkles' companies face more legal hurdles: United Parcel Service has filed an Orange Circuit Court lawsuit against Cash Flow Systems Inc. At issue: three allegedly unpaid invoices totaling $204,931.
And McCorkle must wait on an appeal to wind through the 11th District Court of Appeals in Atlanta before he knows whether records seized by federal marshals in the May raid will remain with government investigators until their probe is concluded.
From THE ORLANDO BUSINESS JOURNAL