Dr. Oz bought the Palm Beach mansion with the help of a man involved in a fraudulent scheme

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Of Pennsylvania’s US Senate candidate Mehmet Oz’s 18 known real estate investments, none is bigger or more valuable than Louwana, a historic 10-bedroom oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.

The 18,559 square foot estate was appraised at more than $36 million, according to local appraisal records. In an interview with Boca Raton Magazine in 2018, the celebrity doctor described the mansion as “our home” and praised Palm Beach, which he said was “like a playground for me in many ways. “.

The opulent Florida property has so far escaped the level of attention given to some of Oz’s other homes, like the New Jersey mansion where he resided for years until 2020. ‘Oz in the hotly contested race, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, highlighted New Jersey residence in viral social media videos, including one featuring “Jersey Shore” cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.

Oz’s campaign has sought to move beyond questions about his residency and real estate, but the Palm Beach mansion brings with it a unique set of political concerns for Oz as it attempts to refute claims that it is “in sort of parachute into Pennsylvania,” Penn State said. Daniel Mallinson, political science professor at Harrisburg.

“It kind of plays into this narrative that they’re trying, I think, to push back,” Mallinson said.

Mehmet Oz’s Louwana property in Palm Beach, Florida.

CBS News

A real estate partner with legal problems

Oz bought the mansion in 2015 with the help of Florida attorney Leslie Evans, who the deed describes as a trustee of the property.

The previous year, Evans had participated in the purchase of a foreclosed Connecticut mansion. It’s a transaction that became central to federal fraud cases filed in 2018 that saw four other people plead guilty to defrauding millions of investors.

The group has been accused of attracting foreign investment to a Palm Beach hotel with the promise of inclusion in the federal EB-5 visa program, which expedites visa review for foreign nationals who contribute to the least $500,000 to development projects that create national jobs. According to court documents, dozens of people paid the high fees, plus an additional $40,000 each, and lost their money.

Prosecutors accused the group of using their investors’ money to finance lavish lifestyles, pay “credit card debts and buy two properties located in Washington Depot, Connecticut”, according to a press release. from the April 2019 Justice Department. Evans eventually admitted to falsifying information relating to one of these Connecticut properties.

In a brief interview with CBS News, Evans acknowledged a long relationship with Oz, who was not involved in the scheme.

“I represented Dr. Oz for years,” Evans said.

While Evans dealt with a lawsuit, a Securities & Exchange Commission investigation and, ultimately, a federal indictment, he continued as a trustee of the mansion, documents show. His name appears on local government documents related to the mansion – such as a permit for a storm drain system and a tax exemption – several times over the years.

The campaign did not respond to questions about Evans’ relationship with Oz or his role as trustee of the property. On February 22 of this year, Evans signed a $60,000 local tax exemption document for the mansion. The tax exemption was first reported by the Miami Herald.

Dr. Mehmet Oz
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on September 3, 2022.

ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

That same day, Evans’ attorneys and federal prosecutors notified a court that they had reached an agreement to avoid a criminal trial. Evans, who had pleaded not guilty in the fraud case, admitted a limited set of facts related to buying a home in Connecticut and agreed to participate in a judicial diversion program. He maintains his innocence of all charges.

The alleged victims of the EB-5 scheme claimed in a 2016 lawsuit to have lost a total of $50 million. Evans reached undisclosed settlement agreements with 61 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but admitted no wrongdoing. David George, a lawyer who represented dozens of alleged victims of the scheme, said his clients also lost their visas.

“It was one of the most egregious cases of fraud I have ever handled,” George said. “I don’t equate a diversion program and admission of facts with expunging anyone’s name.”

Houses, “homes” and “property”: confusion of the countryside

Oz’s relationship with Evans had not previously surfaced during his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, though a series of controversies involving Oz properties and investments dogged him.

The famous doctor struggled for months to give a clear account of his extensive real estate holdings. In August, a person identified by The Daily Beast as a Democratic campaign operative approached Oz at a campaign event and asked how many homes he owned. A video shows Oz responding, “Well, legitimately, I own two houses. But, uh, one of them we rely on; the others I rent out.

The Daily Beast reported later that month that he actually owned 10 homes, including the Palm Beach mansion. Oz then sought to clarify in a tweet that he had “10 properties (disclosed when I announced it). 2 houses,” referring to his campaign finance disclosure.

The disclosure actually shows investments in at least 18 properties, 10 of which have homes. The Louwana mansion is one of 10. But the two he calls homes are a Pennsylvania property purchased in 2021 and his residence in New Jersey.

Earlier this year, Oz listed Louwana for rent for $275,000 a month. The listing has since been taken down.

Aerial photo of the mansion belonging to Dr. Mehmet Oz in Palm Beach, Florida
An aerial photo of Mehmet Oz’s Louwana property in Palm Beach, Florida.

City of Palm Beach/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

When asked why other properties weren’t included in his tweet, specifically four buildings used for Marriott subsidiary hotels, a source with knowledge of Oz holdings made a distinction between outright ownership and properties in which Oz is an investor.

“He does not own these properties. He bought into a real estate investment partnership. They are simply investments,” the source said.

This partnership proved lucrative for Oz. Four other buildings sold in 2021, earning him $1.3 million.

A spokesperson for Fetterman criticized Oz for not including investment properties in his August tweet.

“A house? A property? An investment property? What? Dr. Oz is so out of touch he doesn’t even understand that the real people — the people he claims he’ll be fighting for in Washington — don’t care. difference,” said Emilia Rowland, the spokesperson.

Only two of the 18 properties are in Pennsylvania, one of which is owned by a trust associated with the wife of Oz.

Fetterman sought to portray Oz as an out-of-state. And according to Mallinson, the Florida mansion plays into that representation.

“Fetterman portrayed Oz as someone who is not from Pennsylvania and who is an outsider. And so more properties in other states just reinforce that same narrative,” Mallinson said.

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