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Peoria Real Estate Developer Charged with Bank Fraud; Money Laundering

September 29, 2011

Peoria, Ill. – A federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Peoria, Ill., real estate developer Shara Andrews, formerly known as Shara Manning, with defrauding several Peoria banks of approximately $800,000. At the time of the alleged scheme, Andrews, 38, of the 5900 block of N. Sherwood Avenue, Peoria, Ill., was the owner and operator of Shara Manning Properties (SMP), a real estate development and construction company.

According to the indictment, in November 2004, Andrews, on behalf of SMP, purchased residential development property in Peoria known as the Wyndhill Estates subdivision. To finance the purchase, Andrews obtained a bank loan of $895,000. In March 2005, Andrews obtained a second loan from the bank for $670,000 for development of the subdivision. The two loans were later consolidated into a single loan of approximately $1,453,000, which was secured by the Wyndhill Estates Project real estate.

Andrews’ firm was the developer and general contractor for the project. From August 2006 to January 2009, Andrews sold lots, ranging in price from $80,000 to $300,000, to various real estate buyers and then served as the general contractor for construction of the buyers’ homes. As part of the bank’s loan agreement and to obtain a release of the mortgage from the bank, Andrews was required to make payment from the lot proceeds when an individual lot was sold. The release of the mortgage from the bank was also necessary to fulfill Andrew’s obligation to provide clear title to the real estate buyers.

From August 2006 to January 2009, the indictment alleges that Andrews, as part of the scheme, converted money to her personal use and that of her company, rather than repaying the bank as required and ensuring clear title to the buyers. Further, Andrews allegedly wrote a check which she knew would bounce due to insufficient funds, causing the bank to release its mortgage on a lot, and then converted the proceeds from the sale of the lot to her and her company’s use. Andrews also allegedly submitted fraudulent lien waivers from subcontractors and suppliers to real estate buyers to cause the buyers to release funds to her. Those funds were then allegedly converted to her personal use and to the use of SMP.

Andrews is also charged with two counts of money laundering and with one count of making a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer on Jun. 28, 2010.

If convicted, each count of bank fraud (three counts) carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison. For each count of money laundering (two counts), the maximum statutory penalty is 10 years in prison. Making a false statement carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison.

The date for Andrew’s arraignment in federal court in Peoria will be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court.

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

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass.

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