Three Sentenced In Loan Scheme To Defraud Four Churches And Developer
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JEFFERY N. CROSSLAND was sentenced yesterday to 51 months in prison, RAYMOND E. ROBINSON, a pastor, was sentenced on March 18, 2022 to 42 months in prison and STEPHEN C. PARENTE was sentenced on March 19, 2022 to 33 months in prison for conspiring to defraud four churches and a real estate development company out of more than $3.5 million.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Crossland, Robinson, and Parente abused the trust of four churches and Crossland and Robinson victimized a real estate development company as well. All the victims were seeking financing for building projects. The defendants induced them to enter into loan agreements requiring the victims to transfer “deposit” money into a bank account by falsely representing that the deposit money would be safe from loss. Based on those false representations, the victims transferred their deposits. But the money did not remain in the account safe from loss. Instead, the victims lost their money and their ability to fund their building construction projects. For their crime, Crossland, Robinson, and Parente will serve a substantial sentence in prison.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, court filings, and statements made during court proceedings:
CROSSLAND was a managing member of Crossland Capital Partners, LLC, a purported broker dealer focused on “real estate related capital raising,” located in Santa Monica, California. He also controlled JC Funding Group, also located in Santa Monica, which was represented to be a corporate entity overseeing various subsidiary lending companies under the JC Funding name. PARENTE controlled Eagle Capital Investment Partners, LP (“Eagle Capital”), a purported private financial advisory consultancy practice based in Georgia. ROBINSON was a minister. He was employed by a church-building company based in Missouri and he ran Ray Robinson Ministries – a purported consulting firm for churches. ROBINSON, along with PARENTE, had an ownership interest in Eagle Capital.
In or about early 2013, the defendants met in California and planned their strategy, which was to target churches and market to them by capitalizing on ROBINSON’s background as a minister and church builder. They represented that they were in the business of providing “unconventional loans” for churches and that CROSSLAND funded loans through capital he obtained from other clients who invested in his projects. To effectuate the scheme to defraud, the three defendants drafted and modified term sheets and loan agreements that required the Victims to provide “deposits” as security for their loans. To induce the Victims to enter into the loan agreements and provide these deposits, they agreed to and then made various other false representations about the Victims’ deposit money. Through their communications with the Victims and language they drafted together and included in loan documents, they led the Victims to believe the deposit money would be held in a bank account (the “Account”) and that it would be safe from loss. As the Victims ultimately learned, that was false and their money was not actually being used as the “deposit” they thought it was. Instead, it was being invested in what the defendants understood to be “trading programs” involving overseas investors.
In order to perpetuate the scheme and conceal the fraud, CROSSLAND had others transfer some of Victims’ deposit money to other Victims and falsely represented that these money transfers were loan draw payments. In actuality, CROSSLAND never had the money to fund the Victims’ loans. In addition to providing certain Victims with funds the defendants claimed to be loan draw payments, in order to perpetuate the scheme and conceal the fraud, CROSSLAND and ROBINSON had communications with the Victims, with the intention of (a) lulling them into believing that their loans would be funded and/or their deposits returned, and (b) preventing them from reporting their conduct to law enforcement authorities and/or taking legal action against them.
In this way, from April 2013 through March 2015, CROSSLAND, ROBINSON, and PARENTE fraudulently induced Victims to transfer more than $3.5 million to the Escrow Account. The purported loans were never funded and millions of dollars in deposits were lost.
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In imposing CROSSLAND’S sentence, U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas noted that the crime was “really serious and it required a great deal of planning and heartlessness.”
CROSSLAND, 65, of Glendale, California, ROBINSON, 70, of Leander, Texas, and PARENTE, 54, of Buford, Georgia, each pled guilty to a one count Indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. CROSSLAND previously pled guilty to the one count Indictment on September 17, 2021. ROBINSON and PARENTE previously pled guilty on September 8, 2021 and July 15, 2021, respectively.
In addition to the prison terms, CROSSLAND was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay forfeiture of $37,873 and restitution of $3,226, 950. ROBINSON was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay forfeiture of $17,750 and restitution of $3,226, 950. PARENTE was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay forfeiture of $33,230 and restitution of $2,986,950.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office. Mr. Williams also thanked the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Knoxville, Tennessee, field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margery Feinzig and Derek Wikstrom are in charge of the prosecution.