Rio rancho businessman charged with bank fraud
ALBUQUERQUE – United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, this morning, Richard B. Wickens, 43, a resident of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, was arraigned on a seven-count indictment charging him with bank fraud and false statements before United States Magistrate Judge Alan C. Torgerson. The indictment, which was filed on January 12, 2011, charges Wickens with four counts of bank fraud and three counts of making false statements in connection with a credit or loan application. A conviction on any of the seven offenses exposes Wickens to a maximum thirty years imprisonment, a maximum $1,000,000 fine, and a three year term of supervised release. Wickens was released on his own recognizance pending trial of the case.
According to the indictment, between July and December 2006, Wickens engaged in a scheme to defraud the Bank of Albuquerque (Bank) in order to shore up his failing Albuquerquebased business, Real Turf and Putting Greens, Inc. (RTPG). The indictment generally alleges that Wickens made false statements about RTPG’s financial standing in connection with his application for a line of credit with the Bank; that the Bank relied on the false statements and provided Wickens with a line of credit in the amount of $1.1 million dollars; and that Wickens drew down on the line of credit and did not repay the funds.
The indictment alleges that Wickens was the co-owner and president of RTPG, a corporation established in 2000 that was in the business of installing artificial turf which is used as a substitute for grass on residential lawns and athletic fields. It further alleges that, in July 2006, Wickens met with Bank representatives to discuss the prospect of obtaining a line of credit. During the meeting, Wickens allegedly falsely informed the Bank representatives that RTPG had $11 million in contracts with the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) to install artificial turf at schools throughout Albuquerque. In August 2006 and in connection with his efforts to secure a line of credit, Wickens allegedly submitted financial statements to the Bank falsely represented that RTPG was operating at a profit when in fact it had operated at a significant loss during the period reflected it the financial statements. In September 2006, Wickens allegedly caused RTPG’s accounts receivables to be falsified in order to support his application for a line of credit. Relying on Wickens’ false statements, the Bank extended a $1.1 million line of credit to RTPG in late September 2006. Thereafter, in November 2006, Wickens allegedly caused RTPG’s accounts receivables to be falsified to ensure that the company could continue to sustain the line of credit; relying on Wickens’ false statements, the Bank increased RTPG’s line of credit to $1.3 million. Subsequently, Bank representatives requested verification of the APS contracts, which Wickens refuse to provide. In November 2006, after submitting amended financial information that did not include the non-existent APS contracts to the Bank, Wickens allegedly falsely claimed that he would be able to pay down the line of credit because he was going to collect $17 million from the Hopi Tribe. Instead, Wickens failed to pay off the line of credit.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Anderson.
An indictment is only an accusation. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.