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Feds Want $44.5M In Restitution In Bravata Case

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Federal prosecutors want a Detroit-area investment manager and his son to pay $44.5 million in restitution for a real-estate scheme that crashed during the recession.

In March, a federal jury convicted John Bravata of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and 15 counts of wire fraud. His son, Antonio, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Bravata was sentenced last month to 20 years in federal prison, while his son was sentenced to five years in prison. At sentencing, the Brighton man said he understood the pain of investors, but insisted he committed no fraud and blamed the government for the collapse of Southfield-based BBC Equities.

In a court filing, federal prosecutors wrote the Bravatas' "criminal conduct caused all of the investors to keep their faith and their money in BBC and the defendants, and ultimately lose their money. Thus, all of the investors who invested and/or kept their money in BBC during the period charged in the indictment are victims and are due restitution," The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported.

Bravata's lawyer Margaret Raben is challenging the amount of restitution. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman plans to rule later.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said from 2006 to 2009, the Bravatas defrauded more than 500 investors of more than $50 million dollars, money that largely represented the life savings of investors.

In executing their scheme, McQuade said the Bravatas solicited money for their company BBC Equities by using false and fraudulent statements and promises. These false statements included promises of guaranteed safety of principal and high interest returns.

Rather than investing the money in safe real estate transactions as promised, McQuade said a large portion of the money was used by the Bravatas to support their lavish lifestyles.

As part of the same prosecution, a guilty plea to wire fraud was entered by 32-year-old Richard Trabulsy, of Canton, a former business partner of John Bravata.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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