Apartment complex owner pleads guilty in $18.2 million fraud scheme
SPRINGFIELD – United States Attorney Tammy Dickinson announced that James Laughlin, the owner of the 4-J apartment complexes in Pulaski County, pleaded guilty to an $18.2 million fraud scheme.
The 74-year-old Laughlin of Waynesville admitted that he provided false information to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to obtain a $18,219,400 loan in 2012 for operation and maintenance of 232 apartments and complexes.
Alongside Laughlin was Richard Newman DeLong of Newburg. DeLong, an employee of Brookshire Concrete, was fired for being involved in the scheme. He made it appear as if Brookshire Concrete was renting apartments from 4-J to inflate its occupancy levels to qualify for the FHA loan.
While employed by Brookshire, DeLong issued several checks payable for 20 apartments to 4-J Apartments with a forged signature of the company’s owner. Laughlin repaid Brookshire after receiving a loan from FHA and HUD for concrete work, giving the appearance that rent was being paid for by Brookshire while 4-J was paying for concrete work in return.
DeLong pleaded guilty for his role in the fraud scheme and will be sentenced on June 15. Laughlin must forfeit to the government $18,219,400 and is subject to a sentence for up to 30 years in federal prison without parole.