Tampa executive Brian Marshall pleads not guilty to fraud
TAMPA - Local executive Brian Marshall, whose high-flying lifestyle crashed to the ground last year, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to securities-fraud charges in Dallas. Marshall, 48, is founder of Tampa-based Fireline Restoration Inc., a property restoration firm he reportedly sold in 2006 for $60 million. The company specialized in storm cleanup of properties. The Dallas company that bought the business kept Marshall on as a vice president. He remained in that position until the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating accounting problems there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The SEC charged Marshall and other executives with creating a "fantasy of fraud" by issuing news releases designed to drive up stock prices with exaggerated accounts of the business they were doing.Fireline announced plans in 2007 to build a 635,000-square-foot retail and office center across from the MiraBay Village community in Apollo Beach. The plans never came to fruition. In 2008, Marshall formed Tampa-based Intitech Restoration Inc. But his income, valued at $1.5 million in 2009, dwindled to nothing. Bankruptcy came late that year. Branch Banking & Trust Co. has a judgment against Marshall for a $25 million business loan he personally backed. The bank has repossessed his 45-foot Sea Ray yacht, Pair of Dice, and one of his two Bentley luxury automobiles. Marshall again made headlines last year during his child custody hearing when the magistrate read his credit card statements aloud. Neiman Marcus: $38,000 on gifts for his girlfriend, including a Chanel purse, pumps and a necklace. Louis Vuitton: $8,000. One night at a Las Vegas strip club: nearly $10,000. The purchases all came in the months after Marshall, a general contractor, had sought bankruptcy protection for eight companies he controlled. Magistrate Mary Lou Cuellar-Stilo ordered Marshall to turn over assets to his ex-wife, including cash he was carrying. Marshall pulled a wad of bills from his pocket and counted out $1,080.
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