A Utah developer who engineered a South Carolina real estate deal that left a remote coastal vacation spot in physical and financial ruin pleaded guilty to federal wire and tax fraud charges on Aug. 30.

James T. “J.T.” Bramlette, 42, of Salt Lake City will be sentenced later, said acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart.

The Salt Lake City man has been described as the ringleader of a real estate firm that bought the struggling Melrose Resort on Daufuskie Island near Hilton Head about a decade ago.

Accessible only by boat and occupying a prime spot on Calibogue Sound, the nearly 700-acre property began to take shape in the 1980s. It eventually included a luxury inn, cottages, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, tennis courts, an equestrian center and home sites.

But the concept never took off with homebuyers and vacationers, partly because of its isolated location. The company that owned it in 2009 filed for bankruptcy. The Bramlette-led Pelorus Group…

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