Local News

Triangle businesswoman pleads guilty to fraud

Posted November 21, 2012

— Carolyn Grant, a well-known Triangle businesswoman who has run unsuccessfully for Congress and Raleigh mayor, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony count of mail fraud in a real-estate investment scam.

She could face up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced in federal court Feb. 18. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Bragdon said Grant likely will receive a sentence of six to seven years.

"Grant defrauded investors out of millions of dollars," he said, estimating the amount is somewhere between $2.5 million to $7 million.

According to court documents, Grant lied to investors, telling them their money was used on real estate projects when in fact it was used for her personal and business expenses and to pay back investors. 

Grant showed little emotion in court and did not respond to media questions. But the investors who lost in her scheme shared their deep sense of betrayal.

"It's hard to describe what it's like to have someone court you as a friend and business colleague, and then completely use you," said Elizabeth Long.

Kevin Ellen said he invested $325,000 with Grant for a development project that never materialized.

"I met with Carolyn probably multiple times over the last three years to talk about where's the money going to come from, and how come it's not being paid back," he said. "It's interesting to see someone claiming they were doing the right thing for you for so long suddenly turn around and say, 'Yes, I'm guilty.'"

Defense attorney Woody Webb Sr. said Grant got caught up in the real estate boom six years ago and couldn't repay investors as the market collapsed at the start of the recession.

Carolyn Grant Triangle businesswoman pleads guilty to fraud

"She's clearly very sorry and remorseful for what she's done," Webb said. "She accepts responsibility for everything she did, and she looks forward to her sentencing and, hopefully, repaying as much restitution as possible."

The mail fraud involved misrepresenting information about a real estate project on Louisburg Road in a June 2007 mailing to investors and potential investors, he said.

The North Carolina Secretary of State's Office issued a cease and desist order against Grant in August 2011 after allegations surfaced that she failed to repay millions of dollars she borrowed from friends and associates for real estate deals and personal loans.

Grant promised high returns, but many investors said they never got any money back and that they were misled about where their money was going, authorities said last year.

Webb said Grant has admitted that some of the money from investors has been misspent.

Grant surrendered her real estate license and the license to her Raleigh-based real estate investment company, Omega Property Group, a year ago. She ran unsuccessfully for Raleigh mayor in 1999 and Congress in 2002.

She currently works for another company and asked the court Wednesday if she could be allowed to travel on business to Haiti. She said she hopes to get paid and use the money toward restitution.

Bragdon objected to the travel, but the judge said he would consider it.

"Ultimately, it doesn't really matter how long she's put away for," Ellen said. "The problem is how do you get your cash back."


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  • superman Nov 23, 2012

    She is reponsible for the loss of 3 to 12 million and they allowed her to travel outside the US? I dont think she is going to be returning so she can go to prison.

  • cmmsbft Nov 21, 2012

    another scumbag sent to prisonn...Just like Meg Scott Phillips, etc.

  • atheistswillrule Nov 21, 2012

    This is just one of the many Democrats involved in stealing money from North Carolina Residents. Some of them are still at large and just have not be caught yet. bjraper

    NOT! The lady in question is a REPUBLICAN. I think she is the personification of everything the failing party stands for. Greed over friendships, Greed over humanity, Greed over honesty.

  • Scubagirl Nov 21, 2012

    she has been both a Dem AND a Repub. Most recently republican, sooooo she was a REPUBLICAN when she did this. Reading is fundamental.

    Also, facing 11-20 years in prison and they are THINKING of letting her take a business trip to Haiti????? She may be the nicest woman ever, but I'm just not so sure I'd let someone who just pled guilty to a federal crime LEAVE THE COUNTRY!!!!!!!!! What part of this, and on what planet does this make any sense whatsoever? Would this be even considered for anyone else?

  • welfarequeen Nov 21, 2012

    She must be a democrat to get off as easy as she got off. ConservativeVoter

    Sorry, if you check the record, she is a true blue Republican. NO SURPRISE!

  • bjraper Nov 21, 2012

    This is just one of the many Democrats involved in stealing money from North Carolina Residents. Some of them are still at large and just have not be caught yet. The past several years has show this to be true. Just recall the number of Democrats that have served time in prison, not to mention a few that managed to pay their way out of their misdeeds.

  • ConservativeVoter Nov 21, 2012

    She must be a democrat to get off as easy as she got off.

  • dollibug Nov 21, 2012

    I am glad that she admitted her guilt instead of trying to lie her way out of it.....I guess when you *steal enough money*....it is hard to cover it up though....

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 21, 2012

    She had no choice but to plead GUILTY. Now she should find hersef in prison for about 5 years. Enough to mess up her name and be hard to get a job once she is out.

  • dabink Nov 21, 2012

    "now she's stepping forward and taking responsibility" and "she will accept her punishment". Isn't she wonderful and such a hero and role model? She's so courageous and such a fine human being. Soon she'll make the rounds on TV getting accolades and big bucks for speaking engagements. You can see it coming. Aren't we so wonderfully politically correct and tolerant now?