Convicted of stealing millions from investors, a Winnetka man who declared himself so broke he was assigned a public lawyer is living on the 19th floor of a $2,600-a-month luxury resort and spa overlooking Florida's Gulf Coast.
Steven Green, 52, persuaded a federal judge to allow him to delay reporting to prison by a month — from Oct. 26 to Nov. 30 — so that he could move his wife to Pensacola Beach, Fla., before he begins his 78-month incarceration.
Some of those defrauded by Green are upset that he was allowed the sentencing delay and is biding his time on the pristine white sand beaches in sunny Florida.
"I understand that it is a very plush spa," said Robert Clarke, an attorney representing a woman who lost more than $250,000 by investing with Green. "I would just hope that the source of the funds is not any of his victims' funds."
Green cited his wife's mental health "special needs" and provided a Pensacola address to federal court that he described as "permanent" in order to serve his sentence at a federal prison there. The couple recently moved from Winnetka to the deluxe two-bedroom high-rise suite that faces the Gulf of Mexico and features eight pools within a gated, exclusive resort.
Green was convicted Aug. 25 of wire fraud, and was ordered by U.S. District Judge George Lindberg to repay $3.3 million to nearly two dozen people and businesses who invested funds with him. Green also was ordered to forfeit about $2 million and a Range Rover after the court found he had used his victims' money to afford a lavish lifestyle of travel and restaurants.
He has portrayed himself as bankrupt and has not paid taxes for at least two years, public records show.
But last week, Green and his wife, Tara Kersch Green, who has her own legal problems and has filed for bankruptcy, were found at the Portofino Island Resort. They have lived there for the last eight weeks with Tara's young daughter from a previous relationship.
Before hanging up on a reporter who called their suite, Green said, "My wife is here, and we are trying to get redesignated to Pensacola, and that is all I have to offer."
Confronted later at the resort, as they emerged from a green Mercedes sport utility vehicle toting their poodle, he and his wife declined to talk.
"Honey, I think they have the wrong people," he said, before disappearing into one of Portofino's five towers that offer condominiums as well as rentals.
Federal authorities say there is little they can do about where Green resides before he begins his prison sentence.
Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said prosecutors have done their job and have no reason to question where Green is living now or why he is asking to transfer to the Pensacola prison.
"The discretion is entirely within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons," Samborn said. "It is not up to us to determine where someone will serve their sentence."
Edmond Ross, spokesman for the bureau, said the agency will consider Green's request to change prison locations after reviewing results of a presentencing investigation. The agency can't comment on his current residence in Florida, he said.
Green's attorney, who is paid with taxpayer dollars, has appealed the "reasonableness" of Green's sentence and has asked that he be allowed to return to the securities field. The current court order prohibits him from working in the field for three years following his prison sentence.
The attorney, Eugene O'Malley, of Chicago, could not be reached last week.
Meanwhile, Green has hired a private consulting firm that specializes in helping white-collar criminals prepare for incarceration in a bid to serve his sentence at Pensacola's federal prison rather than at the prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where he was assigned.
The firm, Federal Prison Consultants Inc., is an Orlando, Fla.-based company whose motto is "Helping Families Prepare for Incarceration since 2006." It sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons from a licensed psychologist on Green's behalf. The psychologist stated that a former DUI conviction indicates that Green could benefit from an alcohol abuse program and lists the Florida resort as the couple's permanent residence, court records show.
The psychologist noted that the bureau typically tries to place inmates within 500 miles of their home address, in an effort to allow family visits.
Steven Green's mother lives in Naples, Fla. Living only 50 miles away from Pensacola is Michael O'Donnell, Tara Green's ex-husband, who received full custody of the couple's son, now 4, after his ex-wife violated all divorce decree provisions, court records show.
O'Donnell was married to Tara Green from 2005 to 2008. He said his former wife and her new husband have made his life a nightmare. Among other actions, the Greens filed a temporary restraining order against O'Donnell, forcing him to travel to Illinois to appear in court in February, court documents show. A judge dismissed the case as frivolous and ordered the Greens to pay O'Donnell more than $6,400 — money that has not been paid, O'Donnell said.
In 2009, Steven Green e-mailed O'Donnell and boasted about his wealth and ability to provide his wife with unlimited funds for legal action, court records show. Last January, he wrote to O'Donnell: "I've brushed with death more than I want to admit and it makes mere mortal squirmishes (sic) an enjoyable, amusing and entertaining theatre."
"He thinks it's cute and does it for fun," O'Donnell said.
Federal authorities began investigating Steven Green when he was a senior officer with Blackwater Capital Group Inc., a business based out of his Winnetka home. Bloomberg Businessweek described the company as a "boutique investment banking firm."
Green was charged with wire fraud in August 2009, two months after he married Tara Kersch, according to court records.
He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in December 2009, about the time that his wife pleaded guilty in Cook County to charges that she forged documents. She had been arrested in August after stealing a purse from a New Trier High School student and using the student's credit cards to charge more than $850 in purchases.
In return for pleading guilty to forgery, prosecutors dropped other charges. Tara Green, 36, was sentenced to one year of probation and $565 in restitution to the victim.
In April 2010, a Georgia civil court found Tara Green in civil and criminal contempt of court for, among other things, fraudulently using her ex-husband's name and trying to obtain a $2 million life insurance policy on O'Donnell by posing as his spouse, according to court documents. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail and fined $5,000 for the criminal portion of the charge, but failed to attend her court hearing and has yet to serve the sentence, court records show.
Tara Green has since filed for bankruptcy in Cook County, where she listed her address as Winnetka.
While her Cook County bankruptcy case was pending, she testified in an ongoing child support case in California, asking for an increase in her $6,500 monthly support. She submitted an affidavit to the court stating that her average monthly expenses average $33,728, including more than $4,000 for her daughter's extracurricular activities, court records show.
She owes more than $50,000 in child support and court fees to her ex-husband.
It is unclear how the couple support their tony lifestyle on Florida's Gulf Coast. Twenty civil judgments and tax liens totaling nearly $750,000 have been filed against Steven Green since 1998, according to public documents.
Now as the former investment manager awaits his upcoming trip to prison, he and his wife can walk to the beach, enjoy a poolside cabana massage or the spectacular view from the balcony.
Others, such as Bradley Foreman, one of O'Donnell's lawyers, say Green should be spending his time elsewhere.
"He should go to jail somewhere," Foreman said, "and then they can figure out where he needs to be transferred."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun