Virginia Businessman Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for $2.3 Million Mortgage and Investment Scheme
RICHMOND, Va. – Chief United States District Judge James R. Spencer sentenced Robert S. Capehart, 55, of Richmond, Va., to five years in prison on one count of mail fraud, and ordered him to pay $1,967,074 in restitution. Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Michael F.A. Morehart, Special Agent- in-Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, made the announcement.
Capehart was the president of two Virginia companies, Retirement Investment Group (RIG) and BYB Investments. Through these companies, he promoted real estate ventures, including a convenience store and multiple pieces of real estate that he purchased for rental and investment purposes. Capehart admitted to falsifying mortgage applications, check kiting and defrauding 22 investors in a ponzi scheme.
Court documents show that from 2003 until 2006, Capehart purchased approximately 40 rental properties with little or no down payment and a large mortgage-backed loan. In obtaining the loans from banks, however, he did not fully disclose all of his real estate loan liabilities and other real estate holdings. As time passed, he would obtain new appraisals and refinance the properties based on the appreciated value of the properties without disclosing all of his liabilities and real estate holdings. After paying off the original loan, Capehart would then use the excess funds for business and personal purposes. The combined losses of Wachovia Bank NA, J. P. Morgan Chase Bank, and Suntrust Bank were approximately $252,000.
Capehart also admitted that as the real estate appreciation slowed down or disappeared in or about 2006, he could not generate additional funds by simply refinancing the properties. Therefore, he turned to private investors whom he solicited with a promissory note program carrying high interest rates, such as 20 percent over three months, equating to an annual rate of 80 percent. He represented that he would be able to pay such high rates of interest because he was investing in a variety of properties, such as the Sans Souci Hotel and Apartment Complex in Buckroe Beach, Va., a beach house in Kure Beach, N.C., a convenience store in Richmond, Va., and various other properties in Newport News and Hampton, Va.
Capehart solicited money from approximately 22 potential investors and induced them to invest approximately $2.053 million by making materially false, fraudulent and misleading representations. Capehart’s program was a Ponzi scheme, in which early investors are paid with the contribution of later investors rather than the profit from an underlying business activity. Capehart also lulled investors into believing that their “investment” funds would be safe and secure. To prevent the discovery of the true use of investors’ funds and forestall legal action by investors, Capehart encouraged investors not to seek the immediate return of funds but to "roll over" their investments and thereby purportedly earn even greater profits.
Court documents show that in late 2006 and early 2007, in order to continue to buy time, Capehart began kiting hundreds of thousands of dollars of checks between First Market Bank, Village Bank and First Capital Bank. The purpose of the illegal scheme is to artificially inflate the balance of a checking account to allow checks that have been written to clear that would otherwise bounce.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Richmond Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney David T. Maguire prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.
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