Pere Marquette developers found guilty of fraud
City says taxpayers were among the victims
PEORIA (25News Now) - A jury Friday has found Gary Matthews and Monte Brannan guilty of mail fraud and money laundering in the trial of the development of the Pere Marquette and adjacent properties in downtown Peoria.
Matthews and Brannan were jointly charged with five counts of mail fraud and 13 counts of money laundering. Brannan was also charged, individually, with three counts related to bankruptcy fraud committed in his personal bankruptcy case.
Matthews was found guilty on all mail fraud charges and 12 of the 13 money laundering counts, according to a Department of Justice release. Brannan, who earlier in the trial had pleaded guilty to the bankruptcy fraud counts, was convicted on all 18 remaining counts.
The scheme the pair were convicted of included the transfer of an estimated $13.8 million away from the hotels’ revenues and further diverting at least $1.6 million to themselves for their businesses.
The government asserted that Matthews and Brannan devised and participated in a scheme to defraud investors, the City of Peoria and other lenders.
Over 11 days of testimony, the government presented evidence to establish that Matthews and Brannan orchestrated a scheme to defraud their investors, the City of Peoria, Core Construction, Indure, and other lenders and creditors. The pair had conspired to disguise the fact that they were taking money from the hotel complex operations by claiming they were using the funds to pay for the mortgage and real estate taxes for the hotel.
In the course of that scheme, according to a Department of Justice release, the two illegally transferred funds to themselves in an effort to disguise the source and ownership of the money they had taken.
Both Matthews and Brannan were released with their current bonds in full force and effect. At sentencing, the defendants face statutory penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the mail fraud and money laundering charges, followed by up to five years of supervised release. The bankruptcy charges carry a possibility of up to five years’ imprisonment and up to three years of supervised release. Each of the counts carries the possibility of a $250,000 fine.
Both men will be sentenced on March 27.
Today former developers of the historic Hotel Pere Marquette were found guilty of five counts of fraud. Gary Matthews was found guilty of four counts of fraud, including mail fraud. Monte Brannan was found guilty of money laundering and mail fraud. The jury recognized that the taxpayers, the City of Peoria, senior lenders, and the Marriott Corporation were victims of Matthews’ and Brannan’s crimes.
The Hotel Pere Marquette is an important landmark of our community, a critical necessity for downtown amenities, and an economic driver to attract conferences, events, and visitors to Peoria. Downtown development, as evidenced in our latest strategic plan, continues to be an ongoing focus. With new owners in place, the City is working to ensure that the future of the Hotel Pere Marquette is sustainable and economically successful.
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