United States Attorney David Capp
Northern District of Indiana
M01-204 S. Main Street
South Bend, IN 46601
Hammond South Bend Fort Wayne
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Mary L. Hatton August 1, 2011 PHONE: (219) 937-5603 www.usdoj.gov/usao/inn/ Fax: (219) 852-2770LOCAL ATTORNEY PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL FRAUD CHARGES
South Bend, Ind.—The United States Attorney's Office announced that Thomas F. Lewis III, aka "Chip” Lewis, 49, an attorney practicing law in South Bend, pled guilty today to a thirteen count Information charging him with aiding and abetting mail and wire fraud. The charges stem from an advance fee scheme operated from 2003 through December 2009, by Byron L. Canada aka "Fr. Barney" in which Canada promised to provide loans and financing for commercial, real estate, construction and other projects in exchange for up-front or advance fees for these loans. Utilizing accomplices and several companies including Trinity Trust Financial Services Inc., Providence Funding Inc., and Saint Luke Realty Capital Corp., Canada took fees from various persons and entities all over the United States who were victims of the scheme. Canada was previously sentenced to 135 months in federal prison on December 9, 2010, for this fraud after pleading guilty to a 31 count Indictment on March 10, 2010.
In furtherance of the fraud, Lewis helped incorporate the companies and vouched for Canada despite knowing that Canada had been convicted of fraud in the past and despite knowing that no loans or financing had ever been provided by Canada or any of his companies. The victims of the scheme were told that Canada and his companies had previously closed on loans and financing packages when in fact no loans had ever closed.
Also in furtherance of the fraud, Lewis allowed Canada to misrepresent to victims, their counsel and other interested persons that Canada and his companies were "direct lenders" with their own source of funds when in truth Canada and his companies never had their own source of funds and had no real capacity to supply the multi-million dollar loans that were repeatedly promised. Lewis helped to prepare and file declarations in a court proceeding in which victims, interested parties, and the court were misled in 2008 into thinking that Canada and his companies were capable of providing financing for a large real estate development project when in fact they were not.
As part of the agreement, Lewis has agreed to pay restitution to the victims of his fraud. Sentencing has been set for 11/7/11 at 9:00 AM.
These charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Donald Schmid.
The United States Attorney's Office emphasized that an Information is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The specific sentence in each case to be imposed upon conviction will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.