Montgomery Business Man Sentenced for Bank Fraud, Mail Fraud and Drug Charges
Montgomery, Alabama – On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Gene Earl Easterling, 47, of Montgomery, Alabama, was sentenced to 63 months of imprisonment for bank fraud, mail fraud, and drug charges, announced U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., Postal Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez of the Houston Division, and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Easterling’s five year and three month prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. The judge also ordered Easterling to pay restitution to his financial institution victims.
The mail and bank fraud charges stemmed from a scheme in which Easterling others submitted a series of fraudulent loan applications and received payment. Specifically, evidence showed that from March 2015 through October 2017, Easterling represented to several Montgomery banks and credit unions that he owned a car dealership in Montgomery, Alabama named “Next-in-Line, Inc.” He and others working with him would submit applications for auto loans to pay for cars from his lot. However, Easterling never owned a car lot or actually sold cars. Investigators confirmed that Next-In-Line was never issued an auto-dealer’s license, and in fact, according to Next-In-Line’s business license, it was a computer/gaming repair company.
Once the loans were approved and checks were sent to the applicant through the United States mail, Easterling and his co-conspirators would take them to a bank to cash. Easterling would keep a portion of the check and give a portion to his accomplices. Ultimately, no vehicles were ever purchased. Furthermore, once the loan checks were received Easterling and his co-conspirators would make one or two payments on the loan, then stop paying and attempt to discharge their debt through the bankruptcy courts.
In total, sixteen fraudulent loans checks were approved and resulted in a loss of $682,980 to the financial institutions. Easterling and his co-conspirators also submitted other applications which were not approved in the amount of $253,500. His co-conspirators also have pending cases.
As to his drug offense, Easterling was also found to be in possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
“When criminals lie to banks for their own personal gain, it hurts everyone. When they are also selling drugs, it is even more alarming,” said U.S. Attorney Franklin. “Unfortunately, there is no shortage of crooks out there trying to defraud individuals, financial institutions, and government agencies. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the community from this type of criminal activity.”
“Gene Easterling’s conspiracy was motivated by pure greed,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez. “Using false business practices, Easterling shamelessly enriched himself by taking advantage of the goodwill of credit unions and banks. Because he also violated the sanctity of the U.S. Mail to further his crimes, Postal Inspectors diligently worked with our law enforcement partners to hold Easterling accountable for his actions.”
“This investigation is a clear example of the connections between drug trafficking and other crimes,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris. “Often times, criminal organizations distribute drugs as a means to finance other criminal enterprises. Today’s sentencing should send a clear message to drug dealers that if you sell poison in our communities, DEA and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly investigate you and bring you to justice.”
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Denise O. Simpson and Curtis Ivy.