Politically connected San Francisco real estate mogul Victor Makras was found guilty by a federal jury for his role in a scheme allegedly cooked up with former San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Director Harlan Kelly to defraud loan companies for personal gain.
Makras' case was one of several linked to a federal corruption probe that ensnared a number of San Francisco political figures. One of those figures is Mohammed Nuru, the city’s former head of public works, who was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud in January and admitting to taking bribes from city contractors such as city trash-hauling giant Recology.
Kelly has yet to go to trial. He was accused of, among other things, giving preferential treatment and insider information to a contractor in exchange for free work on his home.
The scheme involving Makras—and allegedly Kelly—was described by federal prosecutors as a conspiracy to “defraud Quicken Loans, the financial lending institution, in a $1.3 million dollar real estate loan to Kelly.”
In the loan application, Kelly and Makras lied to Quicken by inflating the debt Kelly owed to Makras’ investor group by $200,000, according to the federal indictment. Because of that alleged lie, Kelly secured more debt from Quicken Loans at a lower interest rate, prosecutors said.
The pair did not inform Quicken of Kelly’s other debts, including thousands of dollars owed to a contractor for remodeling Kelly’s house and $70,000 that Makras let Kelly borrow.
The duo planned to surreptitiously use the Quicken loan to repay Kelly’s debts to Makras and the contractor who remodeled Kelly’s home, indictment reads.
The indictment does not say what Markras received in return for helping Kelly.
Makras is the principal of Makras Real Estate. Makras also founded Makras Investors, which made residential loans.
In addition to his real estate work, Makras was on numerous San Francisco commissions and boards, including the city’s Public Utilities Commission, Port Commission and Employees' Retirement System Board.
The charges against Makras carry potential prison terms of 30 and 20 years, although his lack of criminal record make it unlikely he’d face that much time.
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at [email protected]