Destrehan Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracies
NEW ORLEANS – DUANE A. DUFRENE, age 54, of Destrehan, Louisiana, pleaded guilty on November 24, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of money laundering before U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jane Triche Milazzo, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
As charged in the now unsealed indictment, DUFRENE and a co-conspirator, Ryan Mullen, utilized fictitious entities, falsified tax returns, fraudulent financial statements, and fraudulent appraisals to orchestrate their scheme to defraud the lenders for the purchases of a residence in Jayess, MS (State Bank and Trust), The Briars bed and breakfast in Natchez, MS (Keesler Federal Credit Union) and two other Natchez hotels (Red Oak Capital Group, LLC). The sale of the Jayess residence was premised on false financial information provided by DUFRENE to Mullen, who then gave it to State Bank and Trust. The sales of The Briars and the two hotels were not only premised upon false information prepared by DUFRENE and given to the financial institutions by Mullen but also upon inflated appraisals based on side sales agreements between Mullen and DUFRENE. After the sales of the bed and breakfast and hotel properties, Mullen paid DUFRENE the sum of $90,000. Mullen pocketed over $3 million from the overvalued loans and used the proceeds to buy at least 20 high-end luxury cars, a number of which have been seized by the United States.
Sentencing for DUFRENE is set for February 23, 2022. At that time, he faces a maximum sentence of up to thirty (30) years as to the bank fraud conspiracy, and a maximum sentence of up to ten years on the money laundering conspiracy. After imprisonment, the defendant faces up to five (5) years of supervised release, and up to a $1,000,000 fine on the bank fraud count, and up to three (3) years of supervised release, and up to a $250,000 fine on the money laundering count. Each count also carries a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.
U.S. Attorney Evans commended the special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their handling of the matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Andre Lagarde.