Former owner of Empire Towers pleads guilty in fraudulent bond scheme

The former owner of the Empire Towers, the prominent high-rise on Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in a fraudulent $7 million bond scheme. Wilfred T. Azar, III, 53, formerly of Queenstown, pleaded guilty Wednesday to securities fraud and filing a false tax return. According to the plea agreement, Azar's company, Empire Corp., could no longer pay its expenses by January 2006 and was effectively insolvent, yet still sold bonds to more than 50 individual investors for more than $7 million. Prosecutors said Azar used the bond proceeds to buy a $100,000 Aston Martin, pay his mortgage, buy season tickets to the Ravens and pay his country club dues. Sentencing is set for Aug. 12.

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