Mitchell John Romersa Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on April 12, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, MITCHELL JOHN ROMERSA, a 51-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. Sentencing has been set for July 12, 2012.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria L. Francis, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
ROMERSA is a self-styled country music singer who has been attempting to make it big for the last decade. He moved from Oregon to Montana and resides in the Billings area while attempting to sell CDs, arrange concerts, radio shows, and music tours.
In 2005 he started two businesses registered with the State of Montana. He was the president of Tatanka Media Company, and a manager/member of Mitchell John Co., LLC. These businesses were dissolved in December 2006.
From 2005 through 2010, ROMERSA collected hundreds of thousands in investments from various funding sources. Many friends provided him personal loans to be used for whatever ROMERSA required in order to keep him afloat while writing music and attending shows. An elderly widow who lived in the Billings area was one of his funding sources and had provided him money since 2005. Her late husband knew ROMERSA, and she trusted him based on this relationship. ROMERSA convinced her to invest in him and his business.
Like many of ROMERSA's other investors, the widow gave him a lot of money with no apparent restrictions, simply as a general investment in him and his music ventures. However, on April 23, 2007, ROMERSA convinced her to obtain a loan from First National Bank in the amount of approximately $220,000 strictly for business purposes. With the widow's authorization $100,000 of this loan was used by the bank to cover past debt incurred by ROMERSA. However, the remaining $120,000 of this business loan was transferred to her Yellowstone Bank account, withdrawn by ROMERSA in cashier's checks, and unlawfully used for personal expenses. One of these cashier's checks in the amount of $33,365.07 was used to pay ROMERSA's personal mortgage. Other checks were used to pay for travel, ROMERSA's utilities, and other personal debts unrelated to his business.
At the time these cashier's checks were written by ROMERSA and used for personal expenses, the widow had been told that the funds would only be used for ROMERSA's business. Had she known that ROMERSA was using the funds for personal expenses, she would not have loaned him the money.
The $120,000 was part of a commercial business loan and the stated purpose was to provide operating expenses for ROMERSA. The bankers at First National Bank said that if they had known that money was going to personal expenses they would not likely have made the loan. Also, at the time of the loan, ROMERSA's businesses had been dissolved by the State of Montana. The widow was unaware of that fact and it would have caused her to question the transaction.
ROMERSA faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the United States Secret Service and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.