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As Gables Insider reported previously, the property at 350 Greco Avenue is in consideration for sale by the City of Coral Gables to the ownership group of the adjacent properties to the South on LeJeune Road. Those properties are owned by a company registered to former Coral Gables Vice Mayor, Frank C. Quesada, and his business partner, John H. Ruiz.
According to his Linked-In page, Quesada’s involvement in MSP Recovery Law Firm traces back to November of 2014, just four months following Ruiz opening the firm. Since then, the two have joined together in several ventures, including: Ruiz Group Holdings Limited, LLC, Quesada Group Holdings, LLC, MSP Recovery Puerto Rico, LLC, MSP Recovery Aviation, LLC, JRFQ Holdings, LLC and 4601 Coral Gables Property, LLC. 4601 Coral Gables Property is the the owner of the lots adjacent to the south of the Greco Avenue property. JRFQ Holdings, LLC is the Delaware based corporation which will be used to make the purchase of the lot from the City. The City has provided Gables Insider with an organization chart reflecting that Ruiz owns 70% of the company, while Quesada owns 30%.
Gables Insider has asked the City to provide a copy of the escrow check and the proof of funds, showing the buyer has the funds to complete the purchase. Such documentation is required in all cash real estate deals involving this large amount of money. The City was only able to provide us with an escrow letter from the buyer’s attorney, stating that they had a $100,000 deposit from “the buyer.”
As we understand it, in a deal worth $3,500,000, the City did not request a proof of funds and is placing tax payers at risk in the case of any inability by the buyers to honor the contract.
This would not be an issue, if the buyer did not have a previous problems with municipal contracts. As reported in the Daily Business Review in 2016, Ruiz’s company, La Ley Sports at the City of Homestead, LLC, had issues with the City of Homestead over his contract for the Homestead Sports Complex.
Following competing lawsuits over La Ley Sports Complex, the City came out on top financially as they split the legal decisions in a nearly four year legal battle. The City may have prevailed financially, but a legal battle like this could be very costly for residents of any municipality.
The PPP Program
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take a toll on businesses throughout the country, the federal government created the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). A part of the CARES Act, the PPP was in place to help businesses keep their employees on payroll and ensure every day Americans continued to receive a paycheck. Some businesses were forced to shut their doors, as the funding took long to receive and many just were unable to get enough funding to keep their doors open.
The program allowed for companies to apply for forgivable loans amounting to 2.5 times their monthly receivables. Over 10.7 million loans were approved in two rounds of funding for a total of $779 billion.
The federal government has made public the information of every company that has applied for a loan, as well as additional information for each, including the amount of the loans.
Over $2 Million In PPP Loans
A search of the PPP loans database shows that between April 7th and April 10th, seven companies sharing the same suite as MSP Recovery Law Firm and owned by one or both, Quesada and/or Ruiz, received PPP loans. The total loan amount received by these entities was $2,198,700.
|MSP Recovery, LLC
|La Ley Con John H Ruiz PA
|JAC-RU Consulting Services
|MSP Recovery Aviation, LLC
|MSP Productions, LLC
|MSP Recovery of Puerto Rico, LLC
|MSP Drop, LLC
As of May 15th, only three loans amounting to $181,500 had been paid back in full.
Jet Purchase Following PPP Loan
MSP Recovery Aviation, LLC’s loan was for $119,400. The loan was approved on April 7, 2020. Gables Insider reached out to the FAA to inquire on the assets controlled by MSP Recovery. The FAA’s online database shows three jets owned by the entity. A Cessna 750, a Gulfstream G-IV, and a Gulfstream G550.
The company that reported using $89,550 of its PPP loan to make payroll and $29,850 to pay utilities, registered the Gulfstream G550, valued at approximately $14,990,000 (based on another similar model currently being sold), on June 3, 2020, less than two months after receiving the PPP loan.
MSP Recovery Aviation did pay off its PPP loan in January of 2021.
The sale of the lot will once again be discussed at the June 8th City Commission meeting.