Horan's financial heavy lifting made it possible to turn Philadelphia's derelict Lafayette Building into today's sleek Hotel Monaco, and to recapitalize Manhattan's 14 Wall Street, and other defaulted landmarks from Miami to Detroit.
He enjoyed his bosses' professional support, because he got their money back. He can show off stellar annual recommendations.
Until now. Last month, Horan's lawyer, David L. Braverman, of Braverman KaskeyP.C. in Philadelphia, filed a federal Labor Department complaint against Horan's employer, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, a Horsham company co-owned by billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Corp. and New York troubled-finance specialist Leucadia National Corp.
Horan alleged he was taken off his job - in violation of the whistle-blowers' protection section of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accounting law - as retaliation for reporting excessive fees and poorly performing assets to his own Berkadia bosses.
"We are cooperating fully with the investigation [and] we are confident that the information we are providing demonstrates that Mr. Horan's claims are false and meritless," according to a statement from Cortney Stapleton, a spokeswoman representing Berkadia.
Horan says Berkadia's praise turned to career-stalling attacks in April, when he visited a retail center the firm was interested in, on Baychester Avenue in the Bronx, N.Y., and found "numerous problems" - starting with empty stores and rampant neighborhood crime. It was information Berkadia supervisors refused to allow him to share with a Berkadia client who was considering an investment in bonds backed by the Baychester property's revenues.
Horan alleges in the complaint that a Berkadia vice president urged him and other managers to "exaggerate" facts in describing properties to the investor.
According to that April 8 e-mail from a Berkadia vice president: "Everyone needs to know their stuff. Be confident even if you are unsure. Exaggerate if you have to, but do not get stumped."
Horan said he told his bosses he was professionally bound to tell the client the truth about the Baychester property. Horan said he was also told not to reveal a $600,000 excess fee wrongly charged to a separate investor in another deal. Horan protested the directives.
In response, he says, the company reassigned his work to other staff, effectively terminating him.
According to Horan, Berkadia stood to profit even if the deals went bad and the clients lost money. That's because Berkadia would likely end up servicing the damaged loans on the properties, enabling the firm to collect servicing fees on top of its earlier investment fees.
Servicing income, he adds, is extra important to Berkadia as interest rates remain near record lows, and new business is slow in coming.
Under pressures like that, the ongoing real estate slump hasn't cleansed the commercial mortgage business, Horan told me. "The meltdown has made things worse," he said.
Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com, and @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.