An area business owner has been indicted on federal bank fraud charges, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Brenda Wood, 45, Leavenworth, Kan., was indicted Wednesday on five counts of bank fraud, one count of theft from an employee benefit program, and four counts of willful violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The indictment alleges the crimes took place while Wood owned several businesses including one in Kansas City, Mo. — Professional Cleaning and Innovative Building Services, Inc. (PCI) — and three in Bonner Springs, Kan. — Action Real Estate Services, LLC; G&W Investments, LLC, and Riverview Crossings, LLC.

The indictment alleges Wood obtained loans for herself and her companies through Farmers Bank in Overland Park, Kan., by making false representations and submitting falsified documents to the bank. Among the allegations in the indictment are these:

• Wood obtained a loan on behalf of Riverview Crossings to purchase property in Bonner Springs in part by forging the signature of a second mortgage holder releasing the deed, the indictment alleged.
• Wood submitted falsified invoices totaling more than $100,000 to support fraudulent draws on the Riverview Crossings loan, the indictment alleged.
• Wood obtained a loan on behalf of PCI to buy property in Basehor, Kan., in which she fraudulently inflated the purchase price to make it appear the loan met the bank’s loan-to-value ratio requirements, the indictment alleged.
• Wood obtained a $350,000 line of credit in part by fraudulently representing to the lender that her company, PCI, was awarded a contract to provide cleaning services at an Internal Revenue Service building in Kansas City, Mo., the indictment alleged. In fact, her company was not even a finalist for the contract, authorities stated.
• Wood diverted more than $200,000 from an escrow account for PCI to her personal account, the indictment alleged.
• Wood set up a 401(k) plan for PCI and embezzled more than $30,000 from the plan, the indictment alleged.
• Wood failed to file annual financial reports for the PCI 401(k) plan, the indictment alleged.

Farmer’s Bank received $12 million from the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. In November 2012, the bank paid the U.S. Treasury approximately $11.4 million to redeem the funding, resulting in a shortfall of more than $500,000.

If convicted, Wood faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each of the bank fraud charges, a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of theft from an employee benefit program, and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count of violating ERISA.

The Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, the Special Investigator General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble is prosecuting.

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On July 24, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth were among the more than 300 faith-based organizations represented by a letter delivered to President Barack Obama and members of Congress urging protection, care and legal counsel for the thousands of Central American children who have fled escalating violence, conflict and exploitation in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Forty national faith organizations alongside 269 regional and local groups from 42 states wrote:

“We strongly object to proposals to detain families with children and any move to roll back the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) in order to effect expeditious deportations. Forcibly and hurriedly returning people in need of international protection back to the dangerous situations they fled without adequate due process would undermine our obligations under international law and our position as a global humanitarian leader and would be a moral disgrace.”

The letter articulates clear policy recommendations for Congress and the Administration and calls for:

· Strengthening the humanitarian response in the United States.

· Legal counsel for all unaccompanied children.

· No roll backs to the provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 relating to unaccompanied children.

· Cost-effective community-based alternatives to detention.

· Adequate services for children, refugees and all groups under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In addition, the faith groups urge that the U.S. government must also address the root causes of the crisis faced by children in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The letter calls for increased regional programs to reduce poverty, lack of opportunity and violence so that children and families can live free from fear in their home countries.

This letter follows a petition on unaccompanied children now signed by more than 4,400 people of faith that was hand-delivered to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
- From Therese Horvat, communications director, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

Gun and drug charges were filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in connection with an incident in Bonner Springs.

Dacco Shane Muth, 27, Leavenworth, Kan., is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction, one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of a sawed off shotgun. The crimes are alleged to have occurred March 15, 2014, in Bonner Springs, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the firearms charges and a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million on the drug charge.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Bonner Springs Police Department investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic is prosecuting.