'Slumlord millionaire' pleads guilty to fraud

The misdeeds of Robert Coyle Sr. (below) were splashed across these 3 front pages of the Daily News.
The misdeeds of Robert Coyle Sr. (below) were splashed across these 3 front pages of the Daily News.
Posted: October 03, 2012

ASOUTH JERSEY real-estate mogul dubbed the "Slumlord Millionaire" admitted in federal court on Monday that he bilked two banks of more than $10 million in 2007 to help shore up his real-estate empire in the city.

Robert Coyle Sr., 67, of Glassboro, faces up to 51 months in a federal lockup when he is sentenced on Jan. 4.

At one time, Coyle's various entities controlled more than 300 properties, mostly in Port Richmond and Kensington.

Federal prosecutors alleged that in May 2007, Coyle borrowed $3.5 million from East River Bank and $6.6 million in June 2007 from Republic Bank and then lied to the banks about property titles and income from 188 properties he put up as collateral.

Authorities said that some of the properties were subject to rent-to-own, house swap or other agreements that Coyle had with occupants and were never disclosed to the banks.

The government's plea memo said Coyle falsely claimed that the properties were free and clear of any liens, claims or interests.

A 2009 Daily News investigation of Coyle's real-estate business said that after the loans closed, Coyle initially made payments but then stopped in 2008 and padlocked his Port Richmond office.

Once-stable homes that Coyle purchased on the west side of Port Richmond were left to rot, and many tenants had homes with leaky roofs, crumbling ceilings, creeping mold, seeping sewage and no heat or window panes.

Some of the properties remain vacant, others have been sold by the banks, and others are involved in complex civil litigation.

As part of his plea, Coyle has agreed to pay unspecified restitution to the banks and individuals who entered into rent-to-own agreements for properties collateralized by the two loans and who suffered financial losses.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia said it appeared that most individuals with rent-to-own agreements have been able to stay in their homes.

Defense attorney Jeffrey M. Miller said Coyle's real-estate business is "basically insolvent" today. Miller said there were "a lot of mitigating factors" that would be raised at sentencing.

Coyle, who had no criminal history, is a former truck driver who got into the real-estate business in the 1990s, Miller said.


Contact Michael Hinkelman at hinkelm@phillynews.com or 215-854-2656. Follow him on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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