State probes fraud claims against Triangle businesswoman
Posted August 22, 2011 6:12 p.m. EDT
Updated August 23, 2011 4:20 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Secretary of State's office is investigating whether a well-known Triangle businesswoman defrauded friends and associates who invested in her real estate business and gave her personal loans.
Carolyn Grant ran for mayor of Raleigh in 1999 and for Congress in 2002 before starting Omega Property Group, a real estate investment company.
A cease and desist order issued by the Secretary of State alleges that Grant has not repaid the millions of dollars she borrowed for real estate deals and that she misled donors about where their money would go.
Grant has already lost $3.2 million in civil lawsuits against her, and her home is facing foreclosure. Two investors have also alleged that she wrote bad checks, totaling $97,000, to repay them.
The state Real Estate Commission is also looking into consumer complaints against her and Omega Property Group.
Attorney Kieran Shanahan, who represents Grant, said that investors knew the risks they were taking and are simply upset that they've lost money. He said the Secretary of State's office has declined Grant's offers to cooperate with the investigation.
"When I was a federal prosecutor, when a defendant wanted to talk to me, I would stop what I was doing and race to get all the information I could," Shanahan said. "Why wouldn't they avail themselves of that opportunity?"
Grant plans to appeal, he said.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said he has not requested a criminal investigation into the matter.