Sheldon Harmon Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud, Money Laundering and False Statements to a Bank
Formerly of Ridgefield, Washington, Defendant Admits to Fraudulent Loan Applications Totaling $3.825 Million Dollars to Umpqua Bank
PORTLAND, Ore. - Sheldon Harmon, formerly of Ridgefield, Washington now of St. George, Utah pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez today to one count of bank fraud, one count of false statements to a bank, and two counts of money laundering.
Harmon refinanced a commercial real property located in Vancouver, Washington through Umpqua Bank’s commercial lending in Beaverton, Oregon. To qualify for the loan, Harmon submitted several false leases to Umpqua Bank indicating that multiple tenants were renting approximately 90% of the commercial property and paying rent to Harmon of almost $70,000 per month. During the underwriting process, Harmon had business signs for the tenants made and hung them outside office space in the building and during a tour of the building, showed Umpqua Bank’s representatives where the tenants purportedly worked. In fact, none of the tenants were leasing the office space in the building as represented by Harmon and not one of them had made a lease payment to Harmon. Based on Harmon’s misrepresentations, Umpqua loaned him $3.825 million dollars and Harmon took out cash proceeds of over $1 million. Harmon admitted that he laundered over $500,000 of the loan proceeds through his bank account.
“Individuals who steal from financial institutions through deception will be prosecuted by this office. We will not permit the integrity of our banking system to be manipulated by cheats,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. Marshall thanked the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Postal Service for their combined investigative efforts.
“Lying to a bank in order to trick them into giving you other people’s money is criminal and runs counter to ideals, like honesty and fair dealing, which are essential to the strength of our financial system,” said Steven J. Bellis, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Oregon. “I am pleased that IRS Special Agents bring their unique expertise in following the money to cases like this in order to help hold people engaging in fraud accountable for their actions.”
Bank fraud and false statements to a bank carry a maximum term of 30 years in prison. Money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. Sentencing is set for August 12, 2013.
This investigation was conducted by Special Agents Abraham Smith and Nicholas Warner at the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Kerin and Katie Lorenz.