An Oakton man has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for a wide-ranging set of Ponzi and other fraud schemes, some that involved two additional Fairfax County men. In total, three fraud schemes bilked multiple victims out of more than $55 million, according to court documents released Aug. 19.
Robert Timothy Koger, 48, a longtime Fairfax County resident and Langley High School graduate, was the president and sole owner of Molinaro-Koger, an international hotel real estate brokerage and advisory firm headquartered in Tysons Corner. According to its website, Molinaro-Koger has transacted nearly $20 billion in hotel real estate sales since its inception in 1959 when it was founded by C. Joseph Molinaro. Koger came on board in the early 1990s and later became its president and owner.
According to court documents, in June, 2011, Bethesda, Md.-based Host Hotel & Resorts filed a lawsuit against Molinaro-Koger, accusing the company of illegal activity in the sale and financing of three Host hotels.
The alleged scheme involved Koger’s illegal flipping of hotels and promissory notes securing hotels in which Host Hotels and Resorts and others were victims.
Initially, Koger publicly responded to the allegations, denying them.
“This whole event seems like the plot of a John Grisham novel, where we are the victims,” he wrote in a June, 2011 Molinaro-Koger press release in response to the suit.
But in May, 2013, Jonathan Propp, 49, of McLean, and Todd Lawyer, 54, of Fairfax, were convicted for their roles in the conspiracy, and it was discovered that more than $20 million had been illegally earned by way of the scheme.
According to court records, Propp was the chief operating officer of Molinaro-Koger from 2009 through 2012 and conspired to illegally sell hotels owned by Host to straw buyers, who would then immediately sell the properties to a buyer at a higher price, with the conspirators pocketing the difference. Propp admitted that he posed as a straw buyer, forged signatures, and obtained a driver’s license for one of the straw buyers who had died before the fraudulent sale could be completed. Lawyer admitted to his role as a straw buyer in the conspiracy.
In a second scheme, court records state that Koger admitted to executing a Ponzi scheme to steal and launder funds received from prospective buyers of hotels that were to be held in escrow while Koger negotiated with the hotel’s owners regarding the terms of the sale. Contrary to his representations to the prospective buyers, Koger was not actually holding their funds in escrow. Instead, he used their funds to pay for personal and business expenses, including to repay prospective buyers whose funds previously were purportedly held in escrow by Koger.
In the third admitted scheme, court documents claim that Koger posed as two fictitious buyers of a large iconic, Pittsburgh hotel that had been having financial difficulties. Court documents state that under the fictitious pseudonym Rick Thompson, Koger contacted the hotel’s owner and offered him $87.5 million, saying that he had placed a bid on a promissory note secured by the hotel and that he would foreclose unless the owner made a $2.5 million deposit into a trust account and signed a letter of intent to sell. The owner complied.
Then, according to court documents, under another fictitious name, John Stern, Koger contacted the hotel owner and offered him $125 million for the hotel. When the owner went back to the first fictitious buyer, Rick Thompson, to back out of the original sale, Thompson demanded a $15 million “breakup fee” to release him from the sale. “I have several reasons to believe that Koger is posing as both Thompson and Stern,” wrote an FBI agent wrote in a sworn affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Koger was arrested and charged last September and pleaded guilty on Jan. 16 to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was sentenced on Aug. 19. Messages left for Koger’s attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, were not returned.
Koger’s younger brother, Jeffery Scott Koger, 44, was sentenced in 2009 to 66 years in prison after going on a shooting rampage in 2008, seriously wounding three people and instigating a shootout with police. Greenspun also represented the younger Koger at trial. At the time of the shootings, Jeffrey Koger was under investigation for embezzling nearly $3 million from about 400 homeowners associations in his position as chief financial officer of Koger Management Group, an HOA management company where he worked with his father, Robert A. Koger. The company later filed for bankruptcy.