Home Improvement Contractor Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison For Defrauding Customers of Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars And Hiding Assets From Creditors in Bankruptcy Proceedings
Defendant Also Was Found Guilty of Defrauding Public Assistance Program
WASHINGTON - Michael L. Rosebar, 54, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for defrauding customers of his home improvement business and personal creditors of hundreds of thousands of dollars, making false statements in bankruptcy proceedings, and defrauding a government program for needy families.
The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division.
A jury found Rosebar guilty on June 20, 2017, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, of six federal counts of concealment of bankruptcy assets, three federal counts of false oaths and statements in bankruptcy, and three counts of wire fraud. He also was found guilty of violating District of Columbia laws, including three counts of first-degree fraud related to his home contracting business and one count of first-degree fraud related to a scheme to defraud the District of Columbia’s public assistance (or welfare) program. The Honorable Senior Judge Thomas F. Hogan sentenced him today.
Judge Hogan stated that he will issue an order of restitution at a later date. Additionally, he ordered Rosebar to pay a $75,000 forfeiture money judgment. Following his prison term, Rosebar will be placed on three years of supervised release.
“Michael Rosebar coldly took advantage of people who trusted him with home improvement work, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers who paid him for projects that he half-started or didn’t start at all,” said U.S. Attorney Liu. “In some cases, he caused his victims, including senior citizens, to live in dangerous conditions for years. He also treated our court system as his personal weapon against victims, and repeated his fraud by lying to judges and creditors in fraudulent bankruptcy and other civil proceedings. Now he is being held accountable for these crimes.”
“After being solicited through the mail, many unfortunate victims in this case were harmed twice. Not only did they lose their original payments, they had to pay more money for additional repairs. Postal Inspectors will continue to protect consumers with our pursuit of criminals who misuse the mail to further their fraud schemes,” said Inspector in Charge Wemyss.
Rosebar’s wife, Erin M. Rosebar, 41, pled guilty on Oct. 10, 2017, to a charge of first-degree fraud. She is to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2018.
According to the government’s evidence, Rosebar operated businesses under several names, including EMR Construction Contractors. From at least February 2008 through January 2015, according to the evidence, he misrepresented himself to clients as a licensed home-improvement, electrical and heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) contractor. However, at no time during that period did Rosebar have a business or professional license from the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Rosebar recruited customers at home improvement stores, through referrals, and by acting as a sub-contractor on projects. According to the government’s evidence, he negotiated contracts with customers for substantial home improvement or HVAC projects, which he could not, and did not intend to, complete. During the trial, the government presented evidence related to numerous home renovation projects and a project to install air conditioners at an apartment complex in Atlanta. According to the government’s evidence, Rosebar received more than $800,000 from 2008 through 2013 for these projects. Rosebar not only abandoned these projects before completion, his demolition and other improper and unskilled work destroyed many residents’ homes. One senior citizen victim paid Rosebar over $380,000, and her home was an uninhabitable disaster with no proper roof when Rosebar abandoned the job. This woman lost her life savings to Rosebar, and was forced to live in a small portion of the home for seven years.
According to the government’s evidence, Rosebar’s fraud extended beyond the victims who testified at trial. All told, the government has estimated that victims lost more than $1.3 million as a result of Rosebar’s conduct from 2001 through 2016.
While scamming numerous victims, Rosebar filed for bankruptcy protection three times in the period between 2008 and 2013. The jury found him guilty of charges related to false statements he made during these proceedings, in which he understated his income and overstated his expenses.
The jury also found Rosebar guilty of receiving benefits to which he was not entitled from the District of Columbia’s Department of Human Services. From 2010 until 2014, Rosebar earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from his contracting fraud victims, and yet received benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program after falsely reporting that he had no income, was unemployed, and had no assets other than his family home.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Inspector in Charge Wemyss commended the work of those who investigated the case from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General.
They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Criminal Investigators Nicole Hinson and Mark Fitzgerald; former Criminal Investigator Juan Juarez; Paralegal Specialists Aisha Keys and Jessica Mundi; Supervisory Litigation Technology Specialist Joshua Ellen; Assistant U.S. Attorney Arvind K. Lal, Chief of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Selden, now with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Marston and Anthony Saler, who prosecuted the case.