Singer in Rock Band Charged in Multi-Million-Dollar Loan Fraud Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 25, 2013|
LOS ANGELES—The frontman of a Los Angeles-based rock band called Lights Over Paris has been charged with submitting false documents to banks to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars worth of loans, money that he allegedly used to fund his band and his lavish lifestyle.
Robert Brandon Mawhinney, who turns 30 today and whom authorities believe currently resides in the luxury WaterMarke Tower in downtown Los Angeles, was ordered detained yesterday afternoon by a federal judge.
During the hearing yesterday afternoon in United States District Court, United States Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick ordered Mawhinney held without bond after determining that he posed a flight risk, given Mawhinney’s frequent travel abroad, conflicting information about his finances, and the fact that he had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cyprus.
Mawhinney, who uses the stage name Robb “TaLLLLL” University, was arrested at Miami International Airport earlier this month after he returned from a trip to Buenos Aires. He was subsequently transported to Los Angeles by the United States Marshals Service. Mawhinney was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint that alleges he applied for loans by submitting phony brokerage statements that falsely showed that he had almost $8 million in assets. The phony statements were altered versions of real statements that showed less than $10,000 in the brokerage accounts.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, between August 2009 and April 2011, Mawhinney obtained four loans from Comerica Bank totaling approximately $6.25 million. Mawhinney defaulted on the loans, causing Comerica to suffer losses of approximately $6 million.
Mawhinney allegedly told bank officials that he needed the money to fund his music business and to purchase recording equipment. According to investigators, Mawhinney used the money from the Comerica loans and loans from other banks to pay for travel, entertainment, and a luxury tour bus that cost well over $750,000.
The other banks that issued loans to Mawhinney and suffered losses were JP Morgan Chase, Zions Bank, and Bank of America, according to court documents.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Mawhinney is charged with making a false statement in a loan application. If he is convicted of the charge in the criminal complaint, Mawhinney would face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Mawhinney is scheduled to be arraigned in this case on February 11.
In a related case that was unsealed late yesterday, two former Mawhinney associates were charged with conspiracy to commit loan fraud. Matt Salazar, 29, of Valley Village, and his brother, Jason Salazar, 28, of Grover Beach and Fresno, have agreed to plead guilty.
The Salazar brothers, who are co-owners of the Burbank-based Matt Salazar Recording Productions and part-owners of LA Sound Gallery, also based in Burbank, admitted in court documents that they provided false documents to Bank of America, Greystone Bank, and Huntington National Bank to obtain about $1.7 million in loans for their music business.
Mawhinney also used the Salazars’ studio to bolster his own fraudulent loan applications. Mawhinney met with a Comerica loan officer at their recording studio and falsely claimed to be an owner of the studio.
The case against the Salazars has been assigned to United States District Judge Judge Cormac J. Carney, who will schedule a hearing for the brothers to enter their guilty pleas. Once they plead guilty, each of the Salazar brothers will face a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
The cases against Mawhinney and the Salazar brothers are the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.