Sean Healy's "Riviera Manor" in the Weston Hills Country Club was a veritable Ponzi playground, a seven-bedroom mansion that both headquartered the scam and hosted its trappings. The court turned the property over to Melanie Damian's Miami receivership on December 4, but it wasn't until this June that the property received a written offer for $2.46 million -- $500,000 more than the appraisal value. But before the home can be officially sold, a judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, must approve the transaction by month's end.
"The judge is looking at it on July 28, and he promised it'd be less than a week before his decision," says Doreen Marina, the property's broker and owner of Marina Realty Group in Aventura.
Normally, Marina could just close the deal -- but for this sale, she had to gather research to prove to the judge of the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg that it was a good sale. Healy was tried in Pennsylvania because the majority of his unwitting Ponzi investors lived in the suburb of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The court will distribute the proceeds of the home's sale to Healy's Ponzi victims.
In a motion filed just this Monday, Damian estimated that Marina put in 250 hours and gave more than 50 tours through the home's gold-latticed living room. Dozens of buyers (several whose names can be found on the Miami Dolphins roster) peeked in the office where Healy defrauded his investors and the bedroom Healy shared with his beautiful wife, Shalese.
But the luxurious home wasn't an easy sell. First, there was that little thing called the housing bust. Damian also found significant roof and kitchen plumbing leaks that has caused water damage in the property (it is being fixed).
When Healy moved out, the water got turned off, and everything from his swimming pool to the custom-installed driveway fountain turned a sickly green -- and stayed that way as recently as April while potential buyers were being whisked through.
About that time, the water was turned back on, and as repairs have continued, Riviera Mansion once again sparkled. But homeowners' insurance, electricity, water, property taxes, and other fun expenses have cost more than $7,000 a month for the receivership and, ultimately, the court.
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Marina received several verbal offers and one written offer for $2.3 million before the $2.46 million offer put forth for the court's consideration Monday. "They decided where they wanted to live," says Marina, explaining that the buyers have family in the Westin Hills neighborhood. "In this case, it was location, location, location."
To prove to the court that $2.46 million was a reasonable amount to accept, Marina had to gather research on the purchase price per square footage of homes in the neighborhood and in nearby neighborhoods. "I got the highest price per square foot in all the subdivisions: Weston Hills, the Reserves, Windmill Ranch, Windmill Lakes... It was a coup," Marina says.
Marina expects that the judge will rule on the proposed sale by month's end and doesn't anticipate any objections. As for whether the mansion's history as a Ponzi hotbed affected the sale, Marina says no: "It didn't have a negative or positive impact. People knew about it, but nobody cares."
While new residents may be moving into Riviera Manor next month, Sean Healy is serving his 16-year sentence in a federal prison in Texas.