CLEVELAND – It’s been a busy few weeks for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason. On Wednesday, he announced the indictment of Blaine Murphy who is accused of illegally flipping 235 houses in the county.
Murphy bought the homes and flipped them using a dummy corporation and signed deeds with cooked up names, prosecutors said. The result, several blighted homes and properties in Cleveland were left unattended.
Cuyahoga County has spent around $400,000 tearing some of his homes down. Last week, Mason announced Uri Gofman, who’s connected to the Murphy case, pleaded guilty to various counts of mortgage fraud and was sentenced to spend eight years in prison. Gofman agreed to forfeit 43 properties to the Cuyahoga Land Bank. Those properties are expected to be repurposed.
“We are happy to be able to assist in repairing some of the damage done to our community through flipping homes,” said Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization president.
The majority of the properties are vandalized and distressed. Some of the homes will be demolished and officials plan to sell some of the properties to non-profits, rehabbers and city land banks.
The cost to Cuyahoga Land bank will be repaid by enforcement funds. Mason’s office said the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s first move will be to “assure the properties are secure and not open,” and to “remove debris and immediate life-safety hazards.”
Seized from Gofman was $600,000, money that will be used to tear down some of the homes.
Prosecutors said Murphy has a lavish home in Florida, along with a boat and airplane and that he’s fighting extradition back to Ohio.