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Park City construction fraud scheme lands 4 men in prison

Published: Friday, Jan. 4 2013 4:25 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Four men are headed to federal prison for their roles in a multimillion dollar construction fraud scheme involving lots in the Promontory Point development near Park City.

Justin Lindle Hatton, 40, of Salt Lake City, was sentenced to 87 months in prison and ordered to pay $8 million in restitution for bank fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Mauricio R. Munoz, of Sandy, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for wire fraud and money laundering.

Two other defendants, Daniel Alfonso Blanco, 41, of West Jordan, and Michael Russell Held, 48, of Pullman, Wash., were each sentenced to 30 months in prison. Blanco and Munoz were also ordered to pay $2.9 million in restitution.

The four men falsified paperwork and persuaded a father and son in Park City to lend a large portion of their personal savings to place five high-dollar building lots under contract. They told the investors that the lots were worth $1.25 million and $1.8 million, twice their actual value.

The investors believed they were safe in making bridge loans of $4.4 million with the understanding that the buyers had paid large down payments and that the properties, which served as security for the loans, were worth twice what they were lending.

Munoz and Hatton asserted that the bridge loans would soon be replaced by a series of construction loans and long-term financing. The investors were promised that the construction loans would repay the bridge loans and end their involvement within less than two months.

The construction financing that purportedly would pay them off was briefly pursued but not obtained. 

Hatton, Munoz, and Blanco channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the deals. About $600,000 was laundered through the bank account of Munozs mother and divided between Hatton and Munoz.

A witness reported that Blanco was paid $10,000 for creating double closing documents — one set that reflected the true closing of the loans and diversion of excess loan proceeds and another set reflecting a false closing to make the bridge lenders feel comfortable that their loan proceeds had been applied as promised.

The bridge loans were not repaid and the investors lost their money.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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