A federal judge has sentenced former banker and Utahn Paul Jensen to 20 years in prison for fraud linked to the collapse of two Texas savings and loans.
Jensen, of North Ogden, was convicted on 18 counts of banking fraud and related charges.In addition to the prison time handed down in Dallas on Friday, U.S. District Judge Jerry Buch-meyer also ordered Jensen to pay $23 million in restitution to victims of a 1980s Texas land-fraud scheme.
Prosecutors said the scam was bankrolled by the Lancaster First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Dallas and Bell Savings Association in nearby Belton.
Both institutions subsequently failed, and seven people involved in the land deals were indicted on fraud charges.
Jensen has denied any criminal wrongdoing in the case, turning down offers of plea negotiations from prosecutors before his trial.
"For the sake of my poor, sweet wife and eight beautiful children, I plead for them to have a father," said Jensen, as he asked for leniency. "I feel terrible about what happened, my naivete and the things I got involved in."
The judge told Jensen he will not go to prison immediately but can wait until two other defendants in the bank fraud case have finished appealing their convictions on similar charges.
Those defendants also received 20-year sentences.
On Nov. 13, federal jurors found Jensen guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, racketeering, misapplication of bank funds and illegal participation in loans.
Prosecutors argued that Jensen knew or should have known he was involved in questionable land transactions and was criminally liable for his role in the massive $135 million fraud scheme.
But the North Ogden man contends his role in the failure of the Texas S&Ls was no different than the role that Neal Bush, son of former President George Bush, played in the collapse of the Eldorado S&L in Colorado.
Defense attorney Barry Sorrels characterized Jensen as a well-intentioned mortgage broker who got in over his head when he acquired S&L interests. Sorrels said Jensen then became unintentionally involved in bad condominium development deals.
Sorrels plans to appeal.