Texas Developer Sentenced To 10 Years

admin —  July 30, 2009 — 5 Comments

Richard Bell, 50, president and CEO of Harborside Mortgage Corporation, was sentenced to 121 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller for bank fraud and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Tim Johnson.

Following a lengthy hearing, Judge Gray Miller sentenced Bell to 121 months in federal prison without parole. During the seven-hour long hearing, Bell stipulated that his conduct charged in the indictment and other relevant conduct caused actual losses of $1.6 million dollars. Several victims of Bell’s fraud attended the proceeding and, although Bell contested their status as “victims,” two provided victim impact statements to the court. The court held Bell responsible for defrauding First National Bank as further described below, Wachovia Bank, Compass Bank, Hibernia Bank, Wells Fargo and at least two individuals. After finding that Bell’s criminal history and the final sentencing guideline score did not adequately address the seriousness of his offense, the court departed upward from the recommended sentencing guideline range and handed down the 10-year and one month prison term to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release. Bell has also been ordered to pay restitution to his victims in an amount to be determined within 90 days.

According to the superseding indictment and the plea agreement, Bell entered into a contract to purchase 97 acres of land in Rosharon, Texas, in 2005 for approximately $1.1 million. The contract specified Bell would make a earnest money down payment of $385,000 and obtain a loan for the balance of the purchase price. Bell made application to First National Bank for a loan of $720,000. As part of the loan application package, Bell submitted false and fraudulent documents, including false financial statements, false income tax returns and copies of false and fraudulent cashier’s checks as proof of the $385,000 down payment. Based on the application and the supporting documentation supplied by Bell, First National Bank funded the loan.

The cashier’s checks totaling $385,000 were in reality two money orders obtained from Wells Fargo Bank with a true value of $35.00. According to Wells Fargo Bank records, Bell purchased a $25 money order Nov. 8, 2005, and a $10 money order Dec. 9, 2005. The money orders were altered using an optical scanner and computer software to make them appear to be cashier’s checks in the amount of $135,000 and $250,000. The settlement statement for the closing of the sale of the property was signed by Bell and the seller and reflected that the cash down payment of $385,000 was “held by seller.” On Dec. 15, 2005, $676,000.84 from the proceeds of the First National Bank loan were wire transferred to the seller of the property.

The factual basis in the plea agreement also included details of an unsecured $100,000 line of credit obtained by Bell from First National Bank Jan. 13, 2006, that was obtained using false and fraudulent tax returns and financial statements. By Jan. 19, 2006, Bell had withdrawn more than $50,000 against the line of credit via checks payable to himself, Harborside Mortgage and Custom Design Pools.

The matter was investigated by the FBI and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Belinda Beek and James R. Buchanan.

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5 responses to Texas Developer Sentenced To 10 Years

  1. Joni was my partner at a homebuilder when she met Richard. She was just getting over a horrid divorce from an abusive jerk. Richard was very charming bringing us healthy lunches he cooked etc. He is a very smart man who unfortunately used his intelligence in the wrong way. Greed took over, he changed over the years from a friendly happy guy to a miserable overwrought overstressed abusive person. I liked the Richard Joni first married, I like to think that person is still buried inside. Joni was very uncomfortable with the spending & was overwrought with worry. Richard became violent and raged at her. She is a good person & does not deserve what has happened, hopefully she has figured out whe is a wonderful person who does not need a man thus will find a true companion that she wants not needs.

  2. ANSWER TO MIKE D.
    RICHARD IS A SKILLED CHAMELEON PREYING ON OTHERS WITHOUT REMORSE AS YOU STATED.
    HE IS A PSYCHOPATHIC AND NARCISSISTIC INDIVIDUAL WHO USED JONI, JUST AS HE DID EVERYONE ELSE.
    HIS ACTIONS COST HER;
    WHEN THEY FIRST MARRIED, BELL WAS BROKE AND HAD NO CREDIT. JONI WAS UNAWARE OF HIS FINANCES AND CHARACTER, EVEN THOUGH I TRIED TO WARN HER. HE BADGERED AND FORCED HER TO TAKE OUT ABOUT 5 CREDIT CARDS IN HER NAME ONLY ASSUMING THE RESPONSIBILITY AND LIABILITY AS THE PRIMARY USER. HE HAD USER RIGHTS WITH NO LIABILITY. THESE CARDS WERE TO HAVE BEEN FOR HIS BUSINESS USE. IN 9 YEARS, JONI NEVER CHARGED ONE PENNY TO THESE ACCOUNTS. BELL LEFT HER OWING $162,638.00 AND ALL OF THE LIABILITY.
    HE AND HIS LAWYER ALSO GOT 35% – $45,850.00 OF JONI’S 4O1K RETIREMENT.
    BECAUSE OF HIS FELONY ACTIONS, IT COST JONI AND I ANOTHER $10 TO $12,000.00 FOR A CRIMINAL ATTORNEY TO CLEAR HER OF ANY INVOLVEMENT IN HIS CRIMES. HIS REPEATED PYSCHOPATHIC ACTIONS COST JONI ANOTHER $20,000.00 IN LEGAL FEES FOR HER DIVORCE ATTORNEY. ADD IT UP,IT TOTALS $240,488.00. I KNOW AS A FACT THAT FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS OF THEIR MARRIAGE, JONI BEGGED HIM DAILY TO PAY OFF THE BILLS AND QUIT BUYING ALL OF HIS TOYS, BOATS AND CARS. SHE WANTED OUT AT LEAST 2 YEARS BEFORE HE WAS ARRESTED BUT WAS AFRAID OF WHAT HE WOULD DO TO HER. SHE WAS CONNED JUST AS MUCH AS EVERYONE ELSE FROM THE START AND GOT TRAPED IN A SITUATION SHE WAS AFRAID TO LEAVE.

  3. I recall a newspaper article quoting Joni about how a car wash did a great job with her expensive cars. It may be true that she seen the light a few years ago but during the early years she loved the expensive lifestyle she was living. Didn’t she know they never paid the carpenter and workers who did all the work on their home at Lago Vista years ago.

    It is sad about Richard. He did have a natural gift. But he had no remorse over cheating people. Even his neighbors.

  4. That means all 10 sentences are carried out at the same time so she will do 10 years total.

    If he had done it consecutively then she would have had to server one entire term before she could begin the next sentence so that could mean up to 100 years in prision.

  5. JON R BALLARD July 31, 2009 at 1:37 am

    I AM BELL’S EX-FATHER IN LAW. IT WAS INCREDIBLE THE 5 TO 6 HOURS THAT HE SPOKE ENDLESSLY AND WITH GREAT ORATION OF HOW HE HAD BEEN MALIGNED BY EVERYONE. HIS ONLY PROBLEM THAT EVERYTHING HE SAID WAS 99.9% LIES. HE EVEN STATED WITH GREAT EMPHASIS TO THE JUDGE,THAT I HAD KILLED HIS DOG. ACTUALLY MY DAUGHTER AND GRAND DAUGHTER TOOK THE OLD AND SICK ANIMAL TO THE VETERINARIAN, WHO PUT THE POOR DOG TO SLEEP. THIS IS ONLY ONE OF MANY, MANY, MANY, BIZARRE, PSYCHOPATHIC STATEMENTS, ALONG WITH HIS EVER CONSISTANT DENYING OF HAVING HARMED ANYONE.
    HE HAS EARNED WHAT HE DESERVES.
    I COULD WRITE MANY PAGES MORE, BUT THE COURTS THANK GOD HAVE SEEN THROUGH HIS EVIL AND VENGEFUL WAYS.

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