New chapter, same sordid story

A felon real estate wheeler-dealer faces theft, bigamy accusations.

By Susan Taylor Martin Times Senior Correspondent
Published July 2, 2007

Victor Thomas Clavizzao had no trouble finding work as a mortgage loan officer in St. Petersburg even though he spent years in prison for fraud and grand theft.

Now Clavizzao -- who is still in the lending business -- faces a new grand theft charge stemming from an $805,000 condo purchase in March. And that's not all.

Clavizzao is being sued over his alleged mismanagement of a Quiznos sub shop, where he repeatedly bounced checks and "ruined my credit," the owner says.

And Clavizzao's first wife says his three other marriages -- the most recent in Las Vegas this year -- are invalid because she and Clavizzao never divorced.

The 44-year-old Clavizzao, whose criminal record and suspicious real estate deals have been chronicled in the St. Petersburg Times, referred a reporter to his lawyer, Scott Andringa.

"It would be unethical for me to comment specifically on any pending case, particularly a criminal case," Andringa said in an e-mail. "However, what I can tell you is that Mr. Clavizzao has been working lawfully, diligently, and transparently, with legal counsel, to promptly resolve these debts and complicated disputes."

Clavizzao was arrested June 21 on a grand theft charge that he "unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally" took $45,000 that had been mistakenly wired into a bank account he had with then-partner, John B. Brown.

The two had formed a company -- B&C Funding -- to buy two condos at Villa Del Mar in Clearwater. Each unit sold for $725,000, but was mortgaged for $805,000 in the name of Anthony Clavizzao, with Victor signing for his brother under power of attorney.

After closing costs, there was enough of a spread between the sales price and the mortgaged amount for $45,000 to go to B&C, Brown said.

When the sale of the first condo closed, a North Carolina bank wired the $45,000 into B&C's account, but mistakenly wired an additional $45,000. Brown has sued Clavizzao, alleging he was "fully aware" of the error and knew the bank would require return of the money.

The transaction has also raised eyebrows because on the day Anthony Clavizzao supposedly signed the power of attorney form in Pinellas County, he was actually in the Duval County jail serving time on drug charges.

The Clearwater condo sales are among several unusual transactions involving Victor Clavizzao, who has bought millions of dollars worth of Pinellas County real estate in the names of other people -- including three who said they had no idea they were listed as buyers.

In at least two more cases, properties were mortgaged for far more than the actual sales price. Even though Clavizzao was not the buyer of record, tens of thousands of dollars went to him and a company registered in the name of his girlfriend. Several of the houses are now in foreclosure proceedings.

The state Department of Financial Services began looking into Clavizzao's activities as a result of the Times stories but said it will have no comment until its investigation is complete. Clavizzao, who posted $5,000 bail after his arrest, continues to work out of a First Continental Mortgage office on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.

"It's ruined our lives"

In February, he used some of the excess mortgage money from real estate deals to buy a Quiznos sub shop near Tyrone Square Mall. He paid $80,000 down and agreed to pay the remaining $80,000 over three years, owner Kenneth Letson says.

However, Clavizzao defaulted on the payments, failed to pay sales taxes and didn't comply with the requirements for transferring the franchise, Letson alleges in a civil suit. Clavizzao recently gave up his interest in the shop, whose business plunged during the time he and girlfriend Angel Christensen ran it, Letson says.

"I've been in there since June 1 operating the store, and every single day there's a new creditor, another check that's bounced," says Letson, who bought the franchise a few years ago with his then-wife.

"They relinquished their 49 percent interest because they know between what they've stolen and the bills they've run up, they've stolen more than $80,000," Letson says. "Whatever he gave us does not even cover the damage. It's ruined our lives. I don't know how I'm going to get through this."

Marriage Nevada-style

Clavizzao and Christensen obtained a marriage license on Jan. 14 in Clark County, Nev. According to the license, a certified copy of which was obtained by the Times, Christensen swore under oath that she was divorced and that her marriage to Clavizzao was her second.

Clavizzao swore that he was single and had never been married.

However, Sofia Vallecillo says she and Clavizzao wed in New York on Valentine's Day 1986 and never divorced.

"He abandoned me, he was living with some other woman," said Vallecillo, who contacted the Times after reading stories about Clavizzao on the Internet. "I didn't know what to do, I was trying to take care of my kids. I was dumb and stupid and young and naive."

In 1994, Clavizzao wed another woman, Caroline May, but that marriage was annulled a year later because he "was still married to his previous wife at the time of the marriage" to May, according to the final judgment of annulment.

And in 1998, a third marriage -- this one to Renee Elian Lavoie -- was also annulled because Clavizzao was not yet divorced from his first wife.

Vallecillo eventually moved from New York to Duval County, where Clavizzao was then living, and they started divorce proceedings. But she said they were never finalized because Clavizzao went to prison and she couldn't afford a lawyer.

Bigamy, which is illegal in the United States, is a felony in Florida and Nevada. However, punishments tend to be light: a Pasco County man with two wives was recently sentenced to five years' probation. There is no centralized database that marriage bureaus can check to see if a person is being honest on the license application.

Vallecillo, who had two children with Clavizzao, said he owes her $77,000 in child support. When he began seeing other women, he tried passing her off as his sister, Vallecillo said.

Then, she added, "he told people I died in a fire."

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susan@sptimes.com.