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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Jefferson County Home Builder Charged with a Wire Fraud Scheme

BIRMINGHAM – Federal prosecutors yesterday charged a Jefferson County home builder with a wire fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.

 

In a one-count information filed in U.S. District Court, the U.S. Attorney’s office charges JEFFREY RUSERT, 52, with a wire fraud scheme. 

 

According to the information, Rusert embezzled over $1.3 million from his customers.  Rusert was the owner and President of Southern Craftsman Custom Homes, Inc.  Southern Craftsman was engaged in the business of residential homebuilding.  Between 2016 and 2018, Rusert engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from at least sixteen known individuals and/or families.  Rusert solicited individuals and families to sign a contract and pay money to Southern Craftsman for the construction of a custom home.  Rusert accepted the checks and down payments from numerous individuals and families and fraudulently used the proceeds on unrelated construction projects, outstanding debt, and personal expenses.  In addition to obtaining personal checks from the victims, Rusert assisted individuals and families with obtaining a loan to finance the construction of their custom home.  After obtaining financing, Rusert submitted false and fraudulent invoices and documentation to financial institutions for the purpose of obtaining checks or draws from the construction loans purportedly to pay for materials, labor and expenses associated with a particular home under construction.  Rusert failed to apply the money obtained from the financial institutions towards the construction of the customer’s home project.  

 

“The victims trusted the defendant to help them achieve the American dream of a custom built home and instead he took their money, used it for his own benefit, and left them without a home, while he moved on to other unsuspecting victims,” Town said.  “We appreciate the collaborative work of the FBI and the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board.”

 

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

 

The FBI investigated the case with assistance from the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark is prosecuting.

 

An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated April 25, 2019