Desert Sun Defendant Pleads Guilty To Bank Fraud

One of the 13 defendants indicted last fall on fraud and other charges in connection with Bend-based Desert Sun Development has entered a guilty plea.

Michael A. Wilson, 58, of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to bank fraud Thursday in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

Last November, multiple indictments were returned by a federal grand jury against 13 defendants, including Wilson, on a variety of mortgage and loan fraud charges arising out of the collapse of Desert Sun Development, a commercial and residential construction company headquartered in Bend.

Wilson's sentencing is set for June 28.

In December 2006, Wilson moved from South Carolina to Bend, where he joined DSD as a construction superintendent.

In 2007, while working for DSD, prosecutors say Wilson fraudulently obtained two loans in his wife's name as her attorney-in-fact for the purchase and refinance of a DSD-constructed home.

To close the first loan to purchase the home for $530,000, DSD principals provided a cashier's check for approximately $112,000 at closing, falsely claiming that it was Wilson's money.

Shortly thereafter Wilson sought to refinance the loan. To qualify for the refinance, Wilson was required to show that he had at least $47,000 in his bank account. Because he did not have sufficient funds of his own, DSD principals temporarily deposited DSD money into his account to make it falsely appear that he did, prosecutors said.

A letter was drafted at DSD to falsely explain that the origin of the $47,000 deposit was Wilson's semi-annual bonus from DSD. Wilson signed the letter as his wife.

Additionally, Wilson signed a loan application on behalf of his wife, falsely asserting that she had worked for DSD for the past two years, earning $15,000 per month. Based on these  fraudulent documents, the bank approved a loan for $500,000, but required that Wilson bring $42,000 of his own money to closing. Not having the money, Wilson again used DSD money for that purpose.

Relying, in part, on the aforementioned fraudulent documents, banks approved and funded the loans for Wilson's home. Wilson was unable to make the monthly mortgage payments and defaulted. The bank foreclosed and took possession of the residence. The current loss associated with Wilson's conduct is approximately $360,000.

Bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. This investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the Oregon Division of Finance and Securities. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Scott Bradford.

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