local attorney arrested on fraud indictment
St. Louis, MO – St. Charles County attorney JEFFREY WITT was arrested on an indictment charging him with falsifying documents to obtain a line of credit on a St. Louis County home which did not belong to him, as well as aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment issued by the federal grand jury, during September 2013, Witt submitted a false loan application in the name of an individual identified in the indictment as PW, in order to obtain a $100,000 line of credit secured by the individual's St. Louis-area residence. The individual home owner was unaware of Witt's loan application. The indictment alleges that Witt provided an associate with false documentation and identification in PW's name so the associate could impersonate PW at the loan closing. Together they were able to obtain the $100,000 bank loan credit line. Witt immediately drew out $60,000 from the credit line, which funds Witt deposited into his law firm bank account and then withdrew for personal purposes. The indictment alleges that subsequent to the loan closing, PW learned of Witt's action and confronted him. In order to conceal the scheme, Witt falsely represented to PW that he had cancelled the loan. To convince PW, Witt created a false letter on fake bank letterhead, forged the signature of a bank officer and created a false "Deed of Release," all of which purportedly released the Deed of Trust on PW's home securing the loan.
Witt was arrested on the charges Friday, March7, 2014, by FBI Special Agents when he landed at Kennedy International Airport in New York City on an inbound flight from Istanbul, Turkey. He will have his initial appearance before a Federal Magistrate Judge in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Witt, St. Charles, MO, was indicted by a federal grand jury December 11th on one felony count of bank fraud and one felony count of aggravated identity theft. The indictment was under seal until the arrest of the defendant Friday evening, March 7, 2014.
If convicted, bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or fines up to $1 million. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence consecutive to any other term of imprisonment and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office. The United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York provided cooperation in the arrest of the defendant.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.