Local Businessman Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Bankruptcy Charges
Michael Wayne Harding Admits to Criminal Misconduct
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA -- A local businessman and former commercial real estate agent, who was indicted in September 2012 on a variety of federal fraud charges, pled guilty today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville to an Information charging him with related conduct.
Today in District Court, Michael Wayne Harding, 59, of Keswick, Va., waived his right to be indicted and entered a plea of guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud.
“In a series of schemes devised over several years, Mr. Harding defrauded investors and mortgage companies in order to sustain his lavish lifestyle,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “He repeatedly lied to his clients, banks, and courts of law and ultimately obtained more than $2 million for his personal use. Mr. Harding’s lies came to an end today in federal court, where he was justly held accountable for his actions.”
“Mr. Harding intentionally falsified documents to secure mortgages, and failed to comply with instructions of his bankruptcy proceedings. His guilty plea today is a result of the investigative work of our law enforcement partners, representing a unified effort to investigate those who choose to circumvent the law,” said Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI’s Richmond Field Office.
According to a statement of facts agreed to by the defendant and admitted to the Court at this afternoon’s hearing, Harding was the president and sole employee of a company called HMC Holdings. On numerous occasions, Harding attempted to secure mortgages for properties HMC Holdings owned based on improvements that had been made to those properties. However, in order to secure the mortgages, Harding was required to provide the mortgage companies with proof that work had been done to the properties. Harding is alleged to have created fake invoices in order to secure the mortgages.
Harding also admitted that after being issued checks by the mortgage companies intended for the contractors, Harding took those checks to local businesses and had the funds converted for his own personal use.
In April 2011, Harding filed bankruptcy. The defendant admitted today that during his bankruptcy proceedings he filed false Monthly Operating Reports, failed to deposit all income into his Debtor-in-Possession account, which is required by the Court, and lied about forging signatures on releases, liens and deeds of trust.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS Criminal Investigation and the Office of the United States Trustee. Special Assistant United States Attorneys Matt Quatrara, Elliott Casey and Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Huber are prosecuting the case for the United States.