Port Richmond landlord could face jail time

The so-called "Slum­lord Mil­lion­aire" faces jail-time after plead­ing guilty to loan fraud.

A land­lord known as the “Slum­lord Mil­lion­aire” as own­er of over 300 prop­er­ties in parts of Port Rich­mond and Kens­ing­ton pled guilty in an Oct.1 hear­ing to loan fraud charges.

Robert Coyle, Sr., 67, of Glass­boro, N.J., was charged in March with ly­ing about the de­tails of the prop­er­ties he put up as col­lat­er­al for two loans total­ing about $10 mil­lion. Coyle, who at one point owned as many as 450 prop­er­ties in Phil­adelphia, op­er­ated one real es­tate busi­ness out of of­fices in Port Rich­mond, at Al­legheny and Ara­mingo av­en­ues.

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice of East­ern Pennsylvania, in 2007 Coyle bor­rowed over $3 mil­lion from East River Bank and over $6.6 mil­lion from Re­pub­lic First Bank, pur­portedly to re­fin­ance ex­ist­ing loans, re­pair his prop­er­ties, and pur­chase new prop­er­ties. He put up about 200 prop­er­ties as col­lat­er­al for these loans.

“This case has noth­ing to do with his ten­ant re­la­tion­ships,” said Coyle’s de­fense at­tor­ney, Jef­frey Miller. “The [Re­pub­lic First] bank was banging down his door for this loan. He wasn’t even in­ter­ested in this loan. They came to him and begged him to do this loan, be­cause what they wanted to do was mas­quer­ade that their fin­an­cial situ­ation was im­prov­ing.”

However, ac­cord­ing to pro­sec­utors, Coyle did not hold good title for all of the prop­er­ties at the time he used them as col­lat­er­al, and sub­mit­ted forged leases and let­ters to ten­ants to the bank. They also said he in­flated rents on some of the prop­er­ties in his loan pa­per­work, and lis­ted some va­cant prop­er­ties as oc­cu­pied.

But Miller stated that “the crux of the crim­in­al case,” the boxes of leases and rent rolls that Coyle provided to the banks which al­legedly in­cluded some falsi­fic­a­tions, were not picked up un­til two days be­fore the loan set­tle­ment was fi­nal­ized, and Miller sus­pects were not even ex­amined by the lend­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

Coyle was dubbed the “Slum­lord Mil­lion­aire” by Phil­adelphia Daily News after a 2009 in­vest­ig­a­tion of prop­er­ties he owned found sev­er­al of his prop­er­ties to be in an ad­vanced state of dis­repair, with leaky roofs, mold, open sewage, no heat and broken win­dows. Coyle al­legedly fled the city and pad­locked his of­fices after de­fault­ing on the loans and es­sen­tially left the houses throughout Kens­ing­ton and Port Rich­mond to rot.

Ac­cord­ing to Miller, Coyle de­faul­ted be­cause First Re­pub­lic Bank did not hold true to guar­an­tees they had made re­gard­ing the loan. Miller said they it was only the bank’s of­fer to cov­er his title in­sur­ance pay­ments – about $25,000 monthly – that made Coyle think he could af­ford the loans. In­stead, the bank skipped most months and nev­er paid more than $6,000 in a month, Miller said.

Coyle kept up on the loan pay­ments for 14 months be­fore de­fault­ing, Miller said. The total loss to the banks is about $2.2 mil­lion, Miller es­tim­ated.

“They had all these bad loans they wanted to get rid of, and they had Coyle ab­sorb this,” Miller said. “He has no crim­in­al re­cord. He’s a blue col­lar work­er. He was a bus driver, then a truck driver. At one point he sold pizza and wa­ter ice out of an old truck he bought.”

However, Coyle is deeply un­pop­u­lar in the neigh­bor­hood. Miller ob­jec­ted to the des­ig­na­tion of his cli­ent as a “slum­lord.”

“I’m not big in­to name call­ing,” he said. “If you own 400 prop­er­ties in Philly’s lower so­cio-eco­nom­ic areas, you’re go­ing to have some people that are go­ing to hate you and some are go­ing to love you.”

Res­id­ents who were af­fected by the neg­at­ive con­di­tions sur­round­ing the prop­er­ties Coyle al­legedly aban­doned are already plan­ning to pack the courtroom at Coyle’s sen­ten­cing on Janu­ary 4 in fa­vor of a harsh sen­tence.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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