owns the local newspaper, a television channel and an AM radio station.
realty company controls 60 percent of the re-sale market in the Villages
, whose commercials have been fixtures on the Golf Channel.
bank lends to retirees fleeing south; his
insurance company provides them coverage.
even gets paid to pick up the trash and organize tee times.
For all his
ubiquity, most outside of Florida
have never heard of him.
In 2011, the Holding Company of the Villages Ltd.
, which is owned by Morse
family, generated at least $550 million in revenue, according to regulatory filings.
Based on the value of his
various businesses and real estate -- plus the almost $1 billion in estimated profits the closely held company has earned over 29 years -- Morse
family are worth more than $2.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg
has never appeared on an international rich list, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its July issue.
, who owns at least four jet planes and a 147-foot yacht, has become one of America's wealthiest real estate tycoons with the help of tax-exempt municipal bonds issued by special government entities he's
created to fund the expansion of the Villages
He plans to use more bonds, which have drawn scrutiny from Florida's governor and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, to help fund another 11,000 homes and 4.2 million square feet of commercial space, according to recent bond offering statements.
Gary Lester, a spokesman for the Villages, said in an e- mail that Morse declined to comment for this account.
Since 1992, Morse
has raised at least $1.16 billion through 41 tax-exempt bond and note offerings in 11 special taxing districts, according to documents filed with the offerings.
The districts use the proceeds to buy assets and services -- such as golf courses and water utilities -- from Morse
, who has earned more than $900 million from the transactions.
On March 28, 2012, Morse donated $50,000 to Let's Get to Work, Governor Scott's 2014 election fund, according to a donor list posted on its website.
Morse is a co-chairman of the Florida finance committee for Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
Gary Morse was born to Mary Louise and Harold Schwartz.
The couple divorced around 1947, when Morse
was about 10 years old.
The duo raised Gary
in Central Lake, Michigan, where the family ran a restaurant and entertainment complex called Brownwood, according to a Jan. 8, 2012, account in Morse's
Villages Daily Sun newspaper.
father's urging, Morse
moved to Florida
that year to take over the business.
Rather than hawk vacant lots, Morse
decided to build homes -- plus pools, restaurants and lots of golf courses -- on speculation, hoping to sell them to retiring northerners.
By 1986, Morse
was selling more than 500 homes a year.
sells the homes, loans to buyers are often made via his
$1.4 billion (assets) Villages Bancorporation.
A subsidiary, Citizens First Bank
, provides consumer-banking services to residents.
According to a regulatory filing, the bank was worth $96 million in 2011.
family own 61 percent of the bank, according to a reply to a IRS questionnaire in 2011.
is the landlord of the Villages's
4.5 million square- feet of commercial space which houses dozens of restaurants, retailers and doctors offices.
A few commercial lots have been sold to retailers such as Target Corp.
(TGT) The remainder is owned by Morse
children, according to bond offering documents.
The value of these properties is about $400 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg
The calculation is based on comparable market data -- vacancy rates, rents, and capitalization rates -- supplied by research firm CB Richard Ellis.
In 2006, Morse transferred most of the direct ownership in the holding company to his three children: Mark Morse serves as President of the company; Tracy Mathews oversees Villages design; and Jennifer L. Parr is a director.
retained the largest block of voting shares, and is credited with the family's fortune, according to the methodology used to compile the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Property records show Morse
owns a $1 million house in the Villages
has four jet planes -- including a 21-seat Dassault Falcon 900 and two 22-seat Dassault Mystere-Falcon 50s, which can fly 3,623 miles without refueling -- owned through the Villages Equipment Co.
also has a 147-foot yacht, Cracker Bay, according to the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Bay Times newspapers.
The Cayman Islands-flagged vessel can accommodate 12 guests and a full-time crew of nine, according to Charterworld Ltd.
family own 40 percent of Lazy B Cattle Ventures LLC.
Current and former employees own the rest of the cattle farm, which uses some of the Florida land near the Villages
that Morse plans to develop, according to the IRS
One-third of Morse's
estimated fortune comes from proceeds from selling assets to the Villages
with bondholder money.
In 1992, Morse
created the Village Community Development District No. 1, the first of 11 entities that have issued $1.16 billion in munis, at least $900 million of which has been paid to Morse
for assets and services.
The district's board was comprised of Morse
and four other Villages employees.
Not disclosed in the bond offering statement: the fact that Morse
father owned Sunbelt
, according to Florida state records.
The bond offering included a clause providing $3.69 million in post-sale fees to Morse
father to connect another 3,351 homes to the system.
Other bond issues show there is no operation at the Villages
too small to profit from.
In 1996, Village Center CDD raised $17 million to buy assets from Morse
, including seven lakes, 12 pickleball courts and 36 holes of golf.
The offering included a provision to pay Morse
$26,000 annually for taking tee times at those four executive courses.
The bonds paid Morse
$60 million for amenities that only cost him $7.5 million to build, the letter said.
also believed some of the assets the district bought from Morse
in the 2003 offering were ineligible to be purchased with a tax-exempt bond.
One such asset: guardhouses that prevented public access to the Villages
even though its roads are public property.
At the time, all five members of the district supervisory board were employees of Morse
The district defended its appraisal methodology, telling the IRS
in a subsequent letter that it was buying forward revenues derived from amenities fees in addition to the assets themselves.
said it also believed Morse
violated the intent of the law allowing special government districts by structuring a district with no residents at all and suggested other bonds may be taxable.
More than $95 million of the $109 million raised went to buy water management assets from Morse