March 8, 2018
By Dominic J Bartolone
Contributing Editor, Fraud Friday
Fraud Friday – Construction Company Owner Sentenced in Bank Fraud Scheme
The owner of a construction company in Conway, Arkansas was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution for defrauding a community bank.
Thomas Matthew Beasley, 47, owner of the construction company, Cobas, pleaded guilty to a single charge of bank fraud. The Beasley case was unusual in that he turned himself into the bank and admitted to presenting fake invoices to increase his credit line.
Between August 2015 through December 2016, Beasley created and submitted 17 invoices to Centennial Bank, totaling $2,911.617, leading the bank to believe he was owed that amount and subsequently increasing his business line of credit by that amount.
However, as Beasley hoped to expand his business to cover the added debt, his company never caught up with the shortfall. About the time the bank was prepared to confront him on his obligations in 2017, Beasley decided to come clean and confess, saying his actions were a misguided effort to keep his company afloat and pay his employees through a business slowdown.
Beasley’s Father, Tom Beasley, had done business for more than 30 years with the bank, and ultimately told the court that he sold off his farm, which he spent 40 years building, to pay off some of the debt owed to the bank.
The younger Beasley still owes the bank just over $2 million, which Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. ordered him to repay during his two years of supervised release following his prison term.
Beasley’s attorney attempted to persuade Judge Marshall into handing down a light sentence of probation or home confinement, claiming Beasley did not use the money to enrich himself, but rather to continue paying his employees after his company fell on hard financial times.
Randy Sims, president, and CEO of Home BancShares, which owns Centennial Bank, spoke on behalf of a group of bankers and creditors attending the sentencing hearing, telling the judge that, “the bank lost over $2 million.. and the Beasley family lost their property, their land.”
He also noted that Beasley took advantage of his friendship with bankers and the long-time relationship they had with his father, and that Beasley “carried out his crime methodically” and that when he created and submitted false invoices, he know what he was doing.
At his sentencing hearing, Beasley told the court that his actions were motivated by selfishness, arrogance, and a desire to continue operating his business without outside help. He turned towards the courtroom and directly apologized to the bank and his family, saying that because of his actions, his parents nearly lost their home.
Judge Marshall said he was impressed by Beasley’s “genuine remorse” and seeing him come forward and take responsibility for his actions, but that a sentence of probation or home confinement was not appropriate in this case.
Beasley was facing up to 46 months under federal sentencing guidelines, and federal prosecutors asked the court for a sentence somewhere within those guidelines.