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Chicago Area Man Arrested, Charged with Bank Fraud in Mortgage Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2011

Urbana, Ill.– A Chicago-area man, Salvatore DiBenedetto, 52, of Downers Grove, appeared in federal court in Urbana today after his arrest on a 16-count indictment charging him with defrauding an Arcola, Illinois bank of approximately $2.5 million from April 2008 to February 2010. The indictment had remained sealed pending DiBenedetto’s arrest and court appearance. DiBenedetto was ordered detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending a hearing scheduled on Apr. 12.

The indictment alleges that from April 2008 to February 2010, DiBenedetto and others engaged in a fraudulent real estate scheme that defrauded the Arcola Homestead Savings Bank of Arcola of approximately $2.5 million. According to the indictment, DiBenedetto was the president and shareholder of two businesses, Avanti Equity Group, LLC and X Factor LLC, both of Lombard, Ill. DiBenedetto allegedly represented that the businesses provided various mortgage services, including brokerage services, marketing, underwriting and payment collection. During the period of the alleged scheme, DiBenedetto represented to the bank that he was performing mortgage management services on its behalf and for its benefit and the bank allowed DiBenedetto to perform activities related to the issuing of mortgages.

As part of the scheme, the indictment alleges DiBenedetto engaged in various false representations to owners of distressed residential and commercial properties to transfer the property to a third party who would obtain financing, rehabilitate the property and sell to interested buyers. The owners released their ownership of the properties and DiBenedetto recruited small business owners to buy various real estate in Chicago. DiBenedetto allegedly caused false representations to be made on loan applications and falsely represented to the title company that he was an authorized representative of the bank. Based on DiBenedetto’s false representations, the title company disbursed the funds to accounts controlled by DiBenedetto and another. DiBenedetto allegedly used loan proceeds to pay the expense of the properties and to convert the loan proceeds to his personal use and benefit.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Deposit Insurance corporation (FDIC); the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson.

If convicted, each offense of bank fraud (four counts); wire fraud (four counts); and making a false statement on a loan application (four counts) carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. Each count of money laundering (four counts) carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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