Ponte Vedra man pleads guilty to wire fraud in bogus investment cases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Ponte Vedra man has pleaded guilty to felony charges after ripping off a series of people including close friends through a series of bogus investment schemes.

Robert Hendricks, a 64-year-old real estate broker, pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud in the case, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a Friday news release.

Hendricks, who was ordered to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of those counts.

  • According to Hendricks' plea deal, he coaxed a couple he knew in 2014 to invest $300,000 in what he billed as a successful real estate venture. In reality, the money was used for his personal expenses.
  • Then in March 2016, Hendricks persuaded another friend to invest $200,000 in the development of Wawa convenience stores in Northeast Florida. Like the first case, the deal was too good to be true.
  • The next month, Hendricks received a nearly $500,000 wire transfer from a lender for a property transferred to him by a longtime friend, who was under the impression that Hendricks would pay for a cleanup of the property along with insurance. Instead, Hendricks took out a $500,000 mortgage he did not repay, and the property was ultimately awarded to the lender at auction.
  • And in February 2017, Hendricks convinced someone else he held a stake in a holding company that owned a Home Depot location and got them to wire him nearly $400,000. Like the previous cases, Hendricks misled his investor — the holding company did not actually own a Home Depot.

A sentencing date for Hendricks has not been set.