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Politically connected real estate mogul fails to get bank fraud conviction tossed, could lose license

(From left) Victor Makras, Farah Makras, Sonia Molodetskaya and Willie Brown at the San Francisco Opera opening night gala. | Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco real estate mogul Victor Makras—who found homes for the likes of Willie Brown and Robert Redford—failed in getting his conviction on bank fraud charges thrown out and could now face the loss of his real estate license, according to state regulations.

On Thursday, Northern District Court Judge Richard Seeborg denied Makras’ request for acquittal or a new trial on procedural and other grounds. Makras is now set to be sentenced in December. 

The conviction could severely impact the mogul’s business empire if he ultimately loses his license. California Department of Real Estate regulations stipulate that the agency may deny real estate licenses to applicants who have been convicted of a crime substantially related to the industry. There are currently no disciplinary actions on his real estate or business licenses

Makras did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Victor Makras was found guilty in federal court on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, of bank fraud and making false statements to a bank. | Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Makras’ case is linked to a federal corruption probe that included a number of San Francisco political figures, including former SF Public Utility Commission head Harlan Kelly and Mohammed Nuru, the city’s former head of Public Works, who was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud in January.

Makras is the principal of Makras Real Estate and also founded Makras Investors. His business sells real estate and manages numerous properties in San Francisco. A longtime player in local real estate, Makras was elected to lead the San Francisco Association of Realtors in 1989.

Some of his high-profile clients have included former San Francisco mayors Willie Brown and Art Agnos and such public figures as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and actor Robert Redford, according to Makras’ website. 

Makras and his wife, Farah Makras, are also close with Mayor London Breed and have hosted fundraisers for the mayor at their Marina District home. Farah Makras’ Instagram shows Breed blowing out candles on her birthday cake at a dinner with the Makras couple and Willie Brown.

“A simple celebration, a gathering of friends: here is wishing you great happiness, a joy that never ends. HAPPY BIRTHDAY mayor London Breed,” reads Farah Makras’ post from Aug. 20, 2021. Breed appointed her to the Asian Art Museum board in early 2021. 

Makras was also on a number of San Francisco commissions and boards, including the city’s Public Utilities Commission, the Port Commission and the Employees’ Retirement System Board.

Mayor Breed did not respond to several requests for comment. 

Makras’ conviction and the case against him sprang from his connection with Kelly, who has yet to go to trial. Kelly has been accused of giving special treatment as well as insider information to a contractor in exchange for work on his home—for free.

Makras was convicted of conspiracy in a scheme to defraud Quicken Loans in a deal involving a $1.3 million dollar real estate loan for Kelly, according to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office. 

The Makras Real Estate sign hangs above the sidewalk on Church Street in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. Victor Makras has been convicted of jail fraud by a federal jury. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

It’s unclear what Markras received in return for helping Kelly.

State rules require that license holders report a conviction within 30 days, which then prompts an investigation. Then the state Department of Real Estate can take action, at which time Makras will have the opportunity to defend himself to the department.    

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at