Authorities pursue fraud cases against Isla Solarte developer

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A source from Panama's public ministry confirmed to us that Shepard Johnson, the figurehead of the Isla Solarte real estate development in the province of Bocas del Toro, is facing multiple fraud cases being brought against him. While we are awaiting further details, it is already clear that one criminal complaint has been filed by a British citizen who has sworn not to rest before Johnson has refunded his money in full.

In May of this year, we had already learned that a group of no less than 20 dissatisfied clients were bringing legal action against Shepard Johnson, citing the "failure of the developer to show any reasonable progress on the infrastructure; the failure of the developer to come up with the funds (himself or through loans) to build the infrastructure; the failure of the developer to provide us with titles to our property; and the failure of the developer to create CC&R;'s that fairly represent the community."

Johnson promised his clients title to their properties, ignoring the fact that so-called "Rights of Possession" land on islands can not be titled in Panama.

Johnson is reportedly hiding abroad and has failed to show up to be heard in the cases against him. Instead, he has only filed at least one sworn statement.

It should come as no surprise that according to several sources in Bocas del Toro, Johnson was well-acquainted with Tom McMurrain of former San Cristobal fame, who is now in jail awaiting sentencing in yet another fraud case.

San Cristobal and Isla Solarte have, among other things, in common that both projects were extensively hyped by Roger Gallo on his website escapeartist.com. Gallo received tens of thousands of dollars in sales commissions in the case of San Cristobal. Isla Solarte is still being advertised on the escapeartist website. Despite the fact that Gallo has been involved and benefited from promoting fraud, the Panamanian authorities have not yet started an investigation into his affairs. It may take a criminal fraud complaint against Gallo before Panama's prosecutors act against this fraud promotor.

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