DAVENPORT – Like a lot of people in Britain, Tom Monaghan harbored dreams of moving to the United States and retiring here.
“People want to come over here to this country, the greatest county in the world,” Monaghan said, over lunch at a restaurant in ChampionsGate, not too far from his home in Davenport.
The challenge was figuring out the best way to get here. Obtaining a green card isn’t easy, Monaghan noted.
“The visa requirements are very onerous and expensive,” he said.
But he did find another option: getting an E2 visa, given to Europeans who start a business in the United States that creates jobs here and adds to the local economy.
“If you’re a foreign national and want to come into this country, you either need a job or you’re a student, or you need a sponsor,” Monaghan said. “If you want to come into this country and don’t have a job, you can start a company here. You have to add to the American economy. That’s how the system works here in America.”
Monaghan thought he had the perfect opportunity to do that when two British residents living in Central Florida, Adrienne and Edward Henry, approached him with what sounded like a great opportunity: invest in a business they had up and running in Davenport called Florida Homes International, located on U.S. 27 at Ridgeview Plaza. Monaghan decided to jump at the opportunity, and ended up investing $1 million of his own money in the company. He got his E2 visa, relocated to Florida, and bought a home in Davenport. The business was a vacation home property management firm, one of the fastest growing fields in this region.
Everything seemed perfect.
Only, it wasn’t.
“What I discovered was they were crooks,” Monaghan said. “They were ripping me off.”
On Saturday, Sept. 10, the Henrys were arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and charged with multiple counts of racketeering – three first degree felonies and six second degree felonies. Bond was set at $105,000 each, and they must show that the funds come from a legitimate source. If they get convicted, they face years in prison.
As for Monaghan, he sees little victory in their arrest. He was forced to shut down the business last May because the Henrys, he said, simply stole too much of the operating money to make it profitable. And he’s lost everything he invested in it.
“It was not a viable business,” he said. “It was a Ponzi scheme. The business ran out of new investors and went belly up, and that meant I would be deported because the business failed.”
Monaghan was living in Britain when the Henrys approached him about being a silent partner in their Davenport business. That was in 2005.
“I had some people I thought were friends who conned me, saying they were investing money in their company,” he said. “They said they could help get a green card if I invested in their company.”
Lured by his dreams of retiring in the U.S. and running a business there, Monaghan agreed and started writing the checks. At first, it all seemed to work out.
“They got me an E2 visa in 2007,” he said.
But an E2 visa only applies for two years, then has to be renewed — assuming the business is still operating successfully. If not, the owner could be sent back to England.
So Monaghan pushed to get an Eb5 investor visa that allows me to stay in this country permanently — but to do that, he needed to invest a significant amount of cash into the local business venture.
“You have to invest a lot of money into an enterprise and create jobs for Americans,” he said. “I had to put in $700,000, and then I had to bring it up to $1 million.”
The company had 10 employees, and the Henrys gave Monaghan documentation indicating they had a 50 percent share of the company, “which they gave me on paper, but it was all lies,” he said. “They didn’t own it. They told me they owned the company, but they didn’t.”
At the time, though, in 2009, Monaghan didn’t know this. But he began to get suspicious when the Henrys repeatedly came back to him for more and more money.
“They were looking for more money out of me to keep the company going,” he said. “I was a bit stupid because I trusted them.”
Part of their argument was to prey on Monaghan’s fears of being deported if the business failed, said Monaghan’s attorney, Paul Mascia.
“That was part of the scam,” Mascia said. “They preyed on ther fact that he would be deported if he didn’t pump more money in. They get you for everything you are worth, and then you get deported when the business fails, because you’re back in England and can’t chase after them, so they get away with it.”
Finally Monaghan started investigating what the Henrys were doing with his funds, and came to a shocking discovery: the couple he had trusted so faithfully had been spending those investment funds on themselves, not the business.
“They were stealing the money I had invested in the company,” he said. “They spent $400,000 of it. They spent it on jewelry and vacations and HOA (home owners associations) dues.”
They also were booking people in the vacation homes and failing to report that income, Monaghan said.
“They take the rent off the vacationers and won’t even tell you they were in the house,” he said.
Stunned, Monaghan fought back in court.
“They just were crooks,” Mascia said. “I think that they knew they did wrong, and I think their best defense was to play stupid, and say ‘What do you mean, what did we do wrong, everyone in the real estate industry is hurting.’ The reality is they used his money to fund an expensive lifestyle. Much of it went into their own real estate investments and personal home and jewelry. We put together the forensics on all their spending to show very clearly they were doing that, misappropriating escrow monies and running a whole host of improper expenditures through escrow accounts.”
“I filed a lawsuit against them, and won a civil judgment against them for $944,000,” Monaghan said, adding that he ended up inheriting the business as a result.
“In May 2010, I took over the business and was awarded 100 percent of the shares of the business,” he said. But there wasn’t much money left – the Henrys had spent it all, he said.
“I got $5,000 out of their bank account,” he said. “They were living off their U.K. pensions.”
“They had already run it into the ground by that time,” Mascia said. “He did his best to keep it going, but at the end of the day it was not recoverable, and unfortunately his investment was gone, and that’s really the sad story of someone who trusted these people.”
Today, Monaghan is retired, still living in Davenport, and fighting to stay in the United States now that his business has failed. He’s applied for a special U Visa, providing legal status to immigrants who have been a victim of crime here in the U.S.
“America doesn’t want to see the crooks get away with it,” Monaghan said.
By going public with his story, Monaghan said he hopes to spare other potential victims of these scams, particularly British and other Europeans who are told that their ticket to a great life in the United States begins with investing their life savings into a local business.
If they do decide to go that route, Monaghan said, he urged them to require monthly or quarterly financial reports from the people operating the business, and added, “The most important thing is to get a good, experienced, trustworthy lawyer.”
Mascia agreed, saying “You need to have independent legal counsel on the front end representing you through the entire process. Often you get these immigration attorneys who are middle men who are putting investors together with companies, and not giving a clear representation of the facts. Unfortunately for Tom, it wasn’t done right. He was constantly backpedaling.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.
After reading the article above covering an interview given by Thomas Monaghan I feel compelled to respond!
I am a UK citizen, who followed their dream & purchased a holiday home back in 2004, in Kissimmee.
Florida Homes International was my management company from the outset.
The story that is not told by Mr Monaghan is how we, as owners, were notified by email on 30th June this year that Florida Homes had “closed it’s doors”.
What then came to light over the following days showed Mr Monaghan to be negligent with our monies as he claims the Henrys were with his.
Outstanding monies on our clients accounts were not available to us, neither were monies still due to us from bookings which had been placed into our homes prior to closure. To add insult to injury it then became clear that monies deducted from our clients accounts to pay for utilities, etc had not been paid to the relevant authorities, thus leaving us with the threat of services being cut off!
Before we start to feel sorry for this “victim” perhaps we should have a little compassion for home owners like myself who had money stolen by Mr Monaghan.
Two wrongs do not make a right!
I would love to have mine & others stories printed to balance out the whole story.
UK Resident – Florida home owner
I also am in the same situation as Fay Roe. To say I feel incredulous to this article is an understatement! Its “smacks of double standards” on Mr Monaghan behalf! Florida Homes International was also my management company which Mr Monaghan owened.When he “shut the doors “on 30th June of this year ,he left me out of pocket in the $1000’s! I am not alone in this ,as I know other owners are in the same situation.
I think the relavent authorities should take a closer look at this, as its not just owners that are owed monies, but former vendors to Florida Homes International as well! It probably runs into the the tens of thousand of dollars!
If we are ment to feel sympathy to his situation this article falls a long way short!
UK Resident- Florida Home Owner
We too are in the same situation as above and are owed $$thousands. Tom Monaghan needs to practice what he preaches instead of ripping off innocent people! We can’t believe that he can just close his doors with our money in his pockets and walk away scott free?? what kind of a lawless country is it?!
Not to mention the innocent people that worked their fingers to the bone for him!! and he left them unpaid and jobless….He disgusts me!
I am a strong believer in what goes around comes around and hope he gets whats due to him!
If i had to describe him in a word it would be “CROOK”
Just like the people above I too have been left being owed $000’s thanks to Tom Monaghan closing down his property management business suddenly and without warning. When he did this he took our money and left us owners to pick up the tab for unpaid bills and taxes.
Michael Freeman did you research this story that Tom told you or just take his word at face value?
Tom sh** in his own kennel so to speak and to seek sympathy and portray himself in this article as a victimised british investor is laughable. If indeed he has lost a lot of money to the Henry’s over his business dealings with them then tough luck is what I say, some of that money is mine not his. Tom is also responsible for putting a number of hardworking and good people out of work in Davenport again without warning at a time of economic hardship.
Michael Freeman if you want the true story of what kind of business man Tom Monaghan is then myself and my fellow property owners above can give you a more accurate picture. Please feel free to contact me on the email supplied.
UK Resident – Florida Property Owner
We too are also in the same situation as the people who have left comments above.
We are UK residents who entrusted our property to Florida Homes International to manage.
After reading the article I feel sick, not because the Henrys ripped off Tom Monaghan, but the fact that he then decided that he was going to do the same to all the owners who entrusted their property with him. He continued to charge monthly management fees, added extra costs to work carried out by outside verndors, seeked to charge us late payment fees, all the time not paying the vendors for the work carried out. On top of that he kept all the rental income for himself. When he shut down Florida Homes International, he did not have the balls to call the home owners, or infact offer to repay us any of the money that he has kept. As far as we are concered Tom Monaghan is as much of a crook as the Henrys.
I hope he does not get a US residancy Visa, and is sent back to the UK where I will be able to deal with him Face to Face.
Mark & Sarah Bedward
UK Resident – Florida Property Owner
I also feel compelled to respond to this biased piece of propaganda hand fed to Freeline Media – as a Journalist do your research first – then make a balanced argument.
I am also a home owner that had a property “managed” by FHI both during the reign of the Henry’s and Monaghan – I am not saying that either are whiter than whiter but there is a stark difference between the two. During the Henry’s reign we were never owed a penny and we received amounts due to us in full.
During the Monaghan dynasty he took bookings presumeably received payment for which this was never passed on to us as a home owner – I believe that is what Monaghan accuses the Henry’s of, what a hypocrite.
As a customer of FHI during the Monaghan dynasty we received several letters from him stating how he was suing former employees and partners. Why this is relevant to his customers is questionable but also unprofessional.
I had nearly finished what I wanted to say but to complete –
If or more likely; when I get the opportunity to meet Mr Monaghan at one of his two luxury properties in Davenport or his place in Bridgened Wales (UK) I will ask him for the money that he owes me.
Dont forget that Monaghan ran this company for 1 1/2 years without the Henry’s, so is 100% responsible for the money he owes homeowners.
I look forward to reading the article in Freeline Media on Monaghan either settling his outstanding debts or a comparable article on Monaghan including his mug shot!
“He’s applied for a special U visa, providing legal status to immigrants who have been a victim of crime here in the US” !!!!!! I would therefore suggest that all his Homeowners whose money he has kept would be entiltled to apply for the same visa.
I started the fhi property management company for Eddie Henry in 2004 and ran a tight ship which then sailed an honest path. I decided to to leave for personal reasons as i did not like the direction things were moving at fhi. Despite my personal clashes with Eddie, i still believe him to be a kind generous man, the money, booze and lifestyle just got the better of him. Tommy Monaghan is nothing more than a whining sore loser to a business deal that went sour in a poor economic climate, real estate in Florida, come on Tommy you are not the only one to lose your ass in this industry, you saw a green card opportunity and used Eddie as much as he used you, to both of your own downfall. I am sorry to hear some homeowners got caught with their escrow monies, if i can help them get straight, then look me up at play today usa, My ship still sails an honest path. Karma is a crazy thing, Tommy, I painted your house for you and you still owe me $800, 7 years on. let he with no sin cast the first stone!
Now that I’ve actually picked myself up off the floor and calmed down a little after reading this article, I just wanted to share yet another home owners case and my disbelief at Tom Monaghan’s hypocritical statements in this report having personally fallen foul of his sudden exit from the property management industry in Florida … what we discovered since he took over the reigns of FHI using his own words from your report was that ……. ‘he was nothing more than a crook, he was ripping us off’ …. does that sound familiar?!?!?!
The case against the Henry’s is one for the courts, however, Mr Monaghan only has himself to blame if he entered into a business agreement with the Henry’s without undertaking the relevant due diligence or taking professional advice beforehand, if he had then maybe he wouldn’t have been so quick to jump at the chance of a green card. He made a bad business decision in an economic time when the market crahshed and a LOT of people lost out …. and when HE ‘closed the doors’ of FHI with ‘immediate effect’ on 30th June without the decency or BALLS to inform the owners himself, (he made a former associate of FHI do it by eMail – who he then made redundant), he walked away pocketing $,000’s of our money. So who’s the crook now? two wrongs don’t make a right Mr. Monaghan!!
Utility bills, property management service bills for pool cleans, house cleans and garden services, cable and telephone bills, Polk county tourist and Florida Sales taxes, hadn’t been paid for 2 and in some instances 3 months, even though these funds had been paid to Tom Monaghan on time and in line with our property management contract. This was compounded when we had to pay them ALL for a second time or run the risk of Liens being placed on our home and we received some threatening mails for tax evasion. Regardless of the Henry’s actions towards Monaghan we never had any issues with them paying our bills on time over the 6 years we had been with FHI under their management.
Living only 5 miles away from Mr Monaghan’s UK home in Bridgend I look forward to seeing him back again in Wales and welcome the opportunity to greet him with a Croeso I’r Gymru ….. and some time to discuss some outstanding debts! Or is he enjoying his retirement in Central Florida too much to come back to the land of song and face the music?
Mr Freeman, please feel free to contact me on the supplied eMail address if you would like to discuss this further so that a balanced report can be written. This article protrays Monaghan as the victim and very much after the sympathy vote when the real victims here are the innocent property owners who put their trust in this man before he run off with our money, the former FHI employees in the Davenport area he owes wages to, and the businesses to whom HE owes money in Central Florida. I wonder who paid for that lunch at Champions Gate? Freeline Media or the Tom Monaghan home owners beneficiary fund!!! I would suggest he should be shown a RED card not given a Green one!
Thomas Monaghan, he’s the angel in this situation?… Poor victim?!
Simple fact is he mismanaged an investment, couldn’t handle a downturn in the economy, did not have a clue about running a vacation property management company, didn’t pay his employees, didn’t pay vendors, stole home owners money, did not communicate with aforementioned owners, employees or vendors.
There are plenty of misguided actions in the whole situation, but Monaghan is not squeaky clean!
I suggest the journalist does some more homework and writes a follow up
article in the interest of fairness.
(although, he may be next in line for litigation from Monaghan… Let’s face it, Tom is getting on in his years, has money, wife and kid are back in the UK – he needs a hobby!)
I can only echo the sentiments of follow former customers of FHI and Tom Monaghan. We have lost thousands at the hands of Tom Monaghan. We placed our trust in this man and his business but have been left to raid our own savings in order keep our bills paid and accounts in order.
Not much more I can add that has not already been posted, I would gladly take a trip to Wales some day to say ‘hello’ to Tom Monagan.
Editor please feel free to contact me on email provided to discsuss this matter further.
After reading this, with everything Tom has done… Stealing owners money and mismanaging the properties HIS company was entrusted with, it appears that he has committed crimes. If it is indeed true he is applying for U visa status as a ‘victim of crime’ (or a victim of the economic downturn and not managing his investments), it would be an abuse of the system for him to receive this.
His own criminal activity in not returning escrow money and paying owners their booking money is grounds for him to have his immigration status revoked.
A call will be made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to investigate his own actions… It might be an idea for the owners (the real VICTIMS) to make a call as well:
Thanks to FHI we lost our beautiful home – they were charging us so much money for electricity, pool heat, pool pumps, the list was endless! They stole our furniture too! Makes me cry every time I think about our home we worked so hard for – it all makes me so sad.
In reply to the ICE response above, we as owners who have had our monies stolen by Tom Monaghan and FHI, would all like to see his application refused. Two wrongs do not make a right, this is definatley grounds for refusal. he has not attempted to contact any of the owners, to offer any explanation or offer any sort of re payment plan. We can all be contacted if required and i am sure a statement will be available from us house owners if they need evidence to refuse the granting of a visa. The fact is Tom entered into an agreement that maybe he should not have done.
At the cloe of business there was moremoney in the FHI bank account than was owed to us home owners, most of itn in the form of deposits held in escrow to pay bills. I am returning to Florida at Christmas with a view to pressing charges through the local Sherrifs DDepartment.
Like all the above responses I feel deeply uncomfortable about this extremely biased article. I have owned a property since 2004, originally purchased through and subsequently managed by Eddie Henry. Lets face it, Eddie may be a bit of a rough diamond – but he always got the jobs done, the bills were paid, the statements were on time and accurate and the tenants were happy. He had good people working for him and Eddie was always available when I visited. Overall I felt comfortable with the situation. When Tom Monaghan took over the business went into chaos and steep decline. Bills went unpaid, statements were constantly incorrect and late ( if issued at all ), suppliers refused to deal with them. TM was never available. I called and wrote several times and was consistently fobbed off ( if answered at all !). My tenants were given the worst service imaginable and threatened to leave.
We lost $’000’s ( including all our furniture ) as did our tenants. I took legal advice regarding Tom Monaghan but after consultation came to the conclusion I would barely break even and it would be a very lengthy exercise. I was advised to take action once he returned to the UK. However, I would be interested in joining forces with other homeowners who have fallen foul of Mr Monaghan …
If you would like to take a peek inside Monaghan’s current home in Reunion, here it is:
He bought it for $1,578,300 in March of 2007. Now it is only worth $986,900 (according to Homes.com) – feel for him !
His ‘other house’ in Ridgewod Lakes, he bought it for $280K as a resale in 2004, is now only said to be worth $157,300, but there is a Tourist Tax Warrant out on it, also it is in Foreclosure by Wells Fargo Bank as of 05/04/11.
I too suffered at the hands of Mr. Monaghan — but not to the degree many of you seem to have suffered — I had a long term rental house and was able to take care of most of the situation as I was in the US. I finally got FHI to give me the past due rents but I could not get FHI to give me the tenant’s security deposit (something that I was not worried while Eddie was at the office and the realtor handling the long term rentals – everything was handled as it should be and on time) I confirmed to FHI that I understood that the security deposit had to be in a Florida bank in an account limited to only security deposits and that such an account was available and that I would happily release FHI from all responsibility for payment to the tenants. When I met Mr. Monaghan, I was told that the security deposit funds were gone and that a claim would have to be filed with the recovery fund that Florida has. Obviously that was a lie — the state of Florida forced FHI to give me the security deposit later that year. We checked about the costs of sueing for the funds that were not received, but decided to let it go and move on. FHI would then be out of our lives.
I assume all of you owners received the same letter I did from Mr. Monaghan last week. I found this particularly interesting:
“There will also be an article and television investigation carried out by Bay News channel 9 TV due to be aired very soon.”
Does anyone other than me think that in the interest of correctness that Bay News 9 should be informed of the experiences with FHI when Mr. Monaghan was in charge? I don’t know about all of you – but all was done properly for me when Eddie was the realtor working with FHI (when I was first introduced to Eddie by Sean I was informed that Eddie worked with FHI – not that Eddie ran FHI) I don’ t know what happened between Eddie and Monaghan and frankly I don’t really care. If you want to contact Bay News 9, here’s the link
Your comments about unpaid bills, taxes, etc piqued my interest in whether or not Mr. Monaghan paid his own bills — so I went over to the Osceola county site. Apparently he did pay his real estate taxes on the house in Reunion – just under 40K for 2009 and 2010.
Perhaps all of the owners who are still owed money from the time Mr. Monaghan was running FHI need to let US Customs and Immigration know about your experiences with him. If he’s truly trying to get a “”hardship” green card, then maybe Immigration needs to be made aware that he caused a lot of hardship for other people, and may or may not be the victim. If you are a US citizen, the letter might carry more weight if presented from your Senator or Representative to Immigration.
For those of you reading this article, you may be interested in the fact that all charges have eventually been dropped.
I mention it since the editor of this site doesn’t seem to have deemed it necessary to provide a link to his later article.
Might I be so bold as to suggest that the only cautionary warning for anyone here, is that editors try & take both sides of a story & then compose a slightly more balanced publication, rather than being duped by the supposed “victim”.