Sebastian Realtor to return to stand today in Ira Hatch trial

VERO BEACH — Sebastian real estate broker David Jamar was one of many former Coastal Escrow Services customers who testified Tuesday to losing money entrusted to Ira Hatch at his multi-million dollar fraud trial.

Jamar, who purchased ReMax Riverside in 1999, testified that his clients lost $29,000 that was deposited in down payments due for closing — money that was not available after Hatch closed the doors of Coastal Escrow Services on Sept. 4, 2007. Jamar also testified that he provided the funds for those clients to close on their homes and that none of the money was ever recovered. Because the alleged losses occurred nearly three years ago and because Jamar was asked to testify about dates and amounts of deposits for about a half-dozen clients, Judge James Midelis allowed Jamar to refer to photocopies of client records and notes he had brought in a folder from his real estate office.

Defense attorney Gregory Eisenmenger challenged Jamar’s testimony and the jury was sent home for the day around 4:15 so the tape recording of Jamar’s statements and of Assistant State Attorney Lev Evans’ questions could be played back. The defense’s objection hinges around the fact that Jamar only personally handled the sale to one of the clients in question, but agents employed by him handled the others. Eisenmenger claimed that this goes against the premise that Jamar had “direct knowledge” of the events that occurred. These events included the acceptance of deposit checks from clients and the Coastal Escrow courier picking the checks up at the ReMax office and signing for them.

“At no time did he indicate that someone in his firm did it,” Eisenmenger argued.

Because Jamar was not physically present each time a check was handed over to ReMax or each time the courier arrived at the office to pick up and sign for a deposit check, the jurors will receive instructions about hearsay when court resumes and about how to regard Jamar’s testimony.

Also on Tuesday Jamar was asked if he knew Ira Hatch and asked to point him out in the courtroom. Jamar pointed to Hatch, who was at the time reviewing something written on a yellow legal pad, as he is assisting with his defense, and described the suit and tie he was wearing in the courtroom.

Among the other alleged victims who testified Tuesday was Arthur Clyde, a newly-retired law enforcement officer who had placed $51,000 in escrow with Hatch’s company to purchase a home on the barrier island and said he was not refunded that money when the deal fell through and he requested the funds be returned to him.

Clyde had gone to the Coastal Escrow office to find the doors locked. When asked by the state why he went to the office, Clyde responded, “Because Mr. Hatch had my funds.”

When Clyde and his wife closed on a different home, he said they had to come up with another down payment.

One witness, Mary Enoksen, broke down in tears while telling the story of losing $22,000 — placed for safekeeping with Coastal Escrow to purchase a home in Palm Bay. When it came time to close on the house, the parties found out there was a problem accessing the escrow funds.

“I lost my mortgage and had to go through a new closing with no down payment on my home,” she said. “I had to finance my house 100 percent.”

There have been about 30 former clients — either escrow depositors or Realtors — testify so far for the state in the first two and a half weeks of this trial, which is estimated to last three months.

A former beachside attorney who is now disbarred and has been in jail since Jan. 11, 2008, Hatch is facing 46 felony counts ranging from first-degree grand theft to racketeering to money laundering. He is accused of either stealing or mishandling more than $4 million of client funds deposited with him through Coastal Escrow Services and his law firm of Hatch & Doty.

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