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A Trinidadian has been has been sentenced to 42 months in a United States jail after admitting to carrying out a US$3 million scheme by way of making misrepresentations to apply for the money in multiple home equity line of credit loans.

In addition to the prison term, Garth Anthony Gardner, 49, will be subject to a restitution order that is to be set at a later date. He must pay a forfeiture money judgment in the sum of US$2,048,446. And upon his release from jail, he will be placed on five years or supervised release with the possibility of his being deported.

The sentence was handed down on Monday by Justice Christopher R Cooper in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In July, Gardner pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud, after he was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, in May 2017 and extradited to the United States in February of this year.

Those reports stated that, in October 2003, Gardner purchased a property in the 5100 block of 13th Street NW, using the Social Security number of another person and falsely representing himself as a US citizen.

In May 2005, he used a corporation that he owned to purchase a second property in the 1300 block of Dexter Terrace SE. Gardner transferred ownership of the second property from the company to himself for US$10. He then applied for a series of home equity line of credit loans using the two properties as collateral.

By settling those loans in close proximity to each other, he minimized the banks’ ability to learn about the other loans. From August to October 2004, Gardner obtained 12 home equity line of credit loans from 12 different banks secured by the 13th Street property, totalling approximately $1.4 million. Between March and April 2006, Gardner applied for 13, and obtained 12, such loans from 12 banks, secured by the Dexter Terrace property, totalling approximately US$1.9 million.

In February 2008, Gardner stopped making payments and defaulted on all of the loans. The banks discovered his fraudulent conduct after initiating foreclosure proceedings on the properties.

Gardner admitted that he used a portion of the proceeds from the fraudulent scheme to purchase 15 silver bars, which the government recovered and liquidated for about US$1.1 million.

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Justice Christopher R Cooper

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