Mobile Man Sentenced To Nearly Four Years In Prison For Conning $260,000 From Three Women
BIRMINGHAM -- A federal judge today sentenced a Mobile man to nearly four years in prison in connection with a con scheme totaling more than $260,000 that he ran on at least three women he met in an upscale Birmingham steakhouse, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.
JULIAN PEARSON BURKE, 56, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of stolen goods. U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Burke to 45 months in prison on the charges and ordered him to pay the victims $264,300 in restitution. Burke had agreed to the restitution as part of his plea agreement with the government. Judge Coogler ordered Burke into custody immediately following today's hearing.
Between October 2010 and October 2011, Burke struck up friendships with at least three women he met at a restaurant in the Summit Shopping Center on U.S. 280. He convinced all three to give him tens of thousands of dollars for him to invest, according to court documents. Instead of investing the money, Burke spent it at pawnshops and casinos. He never returned any money to the three women.
Burke pleaded guilty to transporting stolen goods across state lines for receiving a $100,000 investment check from a woman, identified by the initials C.W., and converting it to personal use by endorsing and negotiating the check at the Imperial Palace of Mississippi casino in Biloxi. The woman believed she was investing in the Admiral Semmes Hotel in Mobile.
According to Burke's plea agreement and other court documents, he carried out his wire fraud scheme as follows:
Burke owned two businesses, Burke Construction and Computer Converters, and maintained business accounts for both at the Mississippi-based Hancock Bank.
In October 2010, Burke met a woman, identified by the initials D.G., at the Birmingham restaurant and built a friendship. In February 2011, he asked D.G. to invest with him by loaning money to pawnshops. On Feb. 7, 2011, she wired $18,000 from her bank account to the Computer Converters account, which held $313 before her deposit. The next day, Burke transferred $18,200 from the Computer Converters account to the Burke Construction account. The same day, he wrote two $9,150 checks to Quik Pawn in Mobile to buy back a 17-carat platinum watch and a men's diamond pinky ring he previously had pawned there for $7,500 each.
In April 2011, Burke convinced D.G. to invest $86,000 more with him, claiming he was publishing academic coloring books for children and would roll her previous investment, plus interest, into the project. She thought she would get back the $110,000, plus interest, within six months. In July 2011, D.G. wired another $20,300 to the Burke Construction account for the coloring book project. Burke never returned any of D.G.'s money. He also cashed a $59,921 check at Grand Casino of Mississippi on the same day the $86,000 was deposited into the previously overdrawn construction company account.
The third victim in the case is identified in court documents by the initials, S.H. Burke met her at the Birmingham restaurant in February 2011. He convinced S.H. to invest with him in buying a pawnshop, with the understanding that she would earn 15 percent interest within 60 days. On Oct. 24, 2011, S.H. wired $40,000 to the Burke Construction bank account, which was overdrawn until the deposit arrived. That same day, Burke withdrew $35,000 cash and transferred $2,000 to the Computer Converters account.
The FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark prosecuted.