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Developers Indicted in $3.7M Fraud

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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Juggling five aliases and seven phony businesses (including some trumped up as churches), two Maryland developers were able to pull off a two-and-a-half-year property shuffle that netted them nearly $4 million, federal authorities say.

A federal grand jury in Baltimore has indicted Samuel R. VanSickle, 49, of Accident, MD, and Louis W. Strosnider III, 47, of Oakland, MD, on charges related to bank fraud conspiracy, the U.S. Attorney and FBI announced Feb. 11.

According to the six-count indictment, VanSickle and Strosnider owned and developed property in Garrett County, MD. VanSickle controlled a mailbox and rented a post-office box for the scheme in Accident, MD.

Garrett County Courthouse
Wikimedia Commons / Skye Marthaler

The defendants are developers in Garrett County, in western Maryland, where the two-and-a-half-year fraud is alleged to have occurred, authorities said.

Each defendant faces decades in prison on the charges.

Donald and Jacob and Allen

Authorities said VanSickle used the aliases Donald Blunt, Jacob Aiken, Allen Helms, Paul Walsh, and William Hall (allegedly an attorney). He also used a number of different business names, including Freedom Church, Gospel Church, Equity Exchange, Unity Mortgage, Impartial Lenders and Noble Forest Consultants.

Strosnider, meanwhile, operated Stony Brook Development Company LLC, in McHenry, MD, authorities said.

The scheme allegedly ran from Dec. 31, 2001 through June 30, 2004, authorities said. During those years, the indictment charges that VanSickle bought properties; concealed the ownership and control of the properties using false names and identities; inflated the value of the properties through fraudulent loans and mortgages; and then entered into sales contracts with Strosnider at inflated prices with fictitious down payments.

Rod J. Rosenstein Steven E. Vogt
Official photos

The indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein (left) and FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Vogt.

Strosnider, in turn, then allegedly obtained bank loans with fraudulent collateral to finance sales of the properties. In this way, the indictment says, entities controlled by VanSickle sold the properties to Strosnider, with the purchase prices paid to VanSickle in the name of companies he controlled.

Forfeitures Sought

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $3,751,000 and 40 properties held in VanSickle’s name or in the names of nominees in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

The defendants face up to 30 years in prison for the conspiracy and for each of five counts of bank fraud. An initial appearance has been scheduled for Feb. 28 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.



Tagged categories: Developers; Economy; Enforcement; Laws and litigation

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