The volatile stock market, where so many investors are betting on unproven new companies, is offering a veteran Philadelphia property mogul with a colorful and mixed record his latest chance at raising millions.

Nicholas Schorsch Jr., the heir to a Jenkintown metals business who built a $30 billion real estate empire from offices in Montgomery County and Manhattan, got spanked with expensive legal settlements after an accounting scandal sent one of his lieutenants to prison. Schorsch is back on Wall Street as president of G&P Acquisition Corp., the latest “blank check” initial public stock offering (IPO) to emerge during a volatile period in stock market history.

“Blank check” companies, also known as Special Purpose Acquisition Companies or SPACs, promise to buy or build new businesses with their new investors’ money.

When you buy SPAC shares, even more than with existing companies, you are expressing faith that the people in charge are expert at turning your dollars into more dollars faster than you could with ordinary stocks.

Among the busiest SPAC creators is the matriarch of another Philadelphia financial family, Betsy Zubrow Cohen, who with her son and frequent business partner Daniel Cohen has been raising hundreds of millions for at least five SPACs, dedicated to acquiring investment payment technology and investment banking firms, among others.

It’s a great time to be raising money to buy well-run companies in growing industries, as Cohen told me last month. More than half the companies that went public in 2020 were SPACs, according to the Proskauer law firm. That’s because it’s cheaper than paying the fees of traditional public stock offerings.

Schorsch’s G&P offers fewer detail about his plans. He seeks the $230 million, the prospectus says, for “investment opportunities in the leisure, craft brewing and distilling, automotive and distribution sectors.”

Beer and cars may not make a natural combination; but those are industries that Schorsch and his associates know something about, according to the prospectus.

For example, G&P CEO Brendan T. O’Donnell runs Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co., in tony Newport, R.I. That’s about three miles up the road from Schorsch’s current offices at investment firm Bellevue Capital Partners and its AR Capital division. Schorsch is chief operating officer of both Bellevue and AR. Newport Craft owns other small breweries and has sponsorship agreements with the New York Mets and Disney World.

O’Donnell is Schorsch’s son-in-law, reports Bruce Kelly, a reporter at Investment News who has tracked Schorsch’s long career.

Schorsch’s assistants at his Newport office said that he was unavailable for comment on his plans.

One of his former companies, American Realty Capital Partners, raised billions from investors in the early 2010s and became a major landlord to Red Lobster restaurants, CVS pharmacies, and Citizens Bank branches, among other chains.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell sat on American Realty’s board while Schorsch ran it and, at the time, admiringly called Schorsch and his lieutenants “riverboat gamblers” with excellent advisers. Schorsch raised capital by selling closed-end (non-traded) real estate funds, as well as shares of a small constellation of publicly traded companies; he bought a string of securities brokerages to raise more money.

Wall Street admirers praised Schorsch for not demanding high upfront fees, as was typical in the real estate business. But investors and regulators later complained that they ended up paying higher-than-expected management fees over time and that buyers sometimes had a hard time reselling Schorsch’s funds without accepting deep discounts.

American Realty in 2014 admitted exaggerating profits. Schorsch stepped down as American Realty chief executive (Rendell and other directors quit).

Schorsch and the company, renamed Vereit, were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Malvern-based Vanguard Group. Both alleged that Schorsch had overpaid himself with money that should have stayed with the company to enrich investors.

The chief financial officer Schorsch had put in charge of the books, Brian Block, was later convicted of securities fraud in federal court in New York over the exaggerated earnings, and sentenced to a year and a half in prison. Schorsch faced no criminal charges.

Vereit, Schorsch’s former real estate company, settled the Vanguard complaint for $90 million in 2018, without admitting wrongdoing. Schorsch, his real estate firm AR Capital, and former CFO Block settled with the SEC for a combined $60 million in 2019. As part of the settlement Schorsch agreed not to violate U.S. securities laws.

While he was assembling real estate businesses, Schorsch also purchased a string of securities broker-dealer firms, combining them into RCS Capital Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2016.

Schorsch has bounced back from reverses before. In the early 2000s, he set up American Realty Finance Trust to buy and lease bank branches, with his friend the mortgage-backed securities developer Lewis Ranieri, but the two quarreled and Schorsch was forced out.

That’s when he moved his offices from Montgomery County to Manhattan’s Park Avenue and began building up his real estate and brokerage companies. ”I would like to work about 19 hours a day,” he told investors in a 2013 investor conference. “The goal here is to build the greatest company on the planet,” he added. “I have a long way to go.”