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Men charged with bank fraud, money laundering in connection to purchase of The Briars, other properties

NEW ORLEANS — Ryan P. Mullen, 39, and a resident of Jayess (Mississippi), and Duane A. Dufrene, 53, and a resident of Destrehan, Louisiana, were indicted on Oct. 16 by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering, in addition to multiple counts of substantive bank fraud and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

As charged in the now unsealed indictment, Mullen and Dufrene utilized fictitious entities, falsified tax returns and provided fraudulent financial statements and appraisals to orchestrate their scheme to defraud the lenders for the purchases of a residence in Jayess, (State Bank and Trust), The Briars bed and breakfast in Natchez, MS (Keesler Federal Credit Union) and two other Natchez hotels (Red Oak Capital Group, LLC).

The sale of the Jayess residence was premised on false financial information provided by Dufrene to Mullen, who then gave it to State Bank. The sales of The Briars and the two hotels were not only premised upon false information prepared by Dufrene and given to the financial institutions by Mullen but also upon inflated appraisals based on side sales agreements between Mullen and Dufrene.

After the sales of the bed and breakfast and hotel properties, Mullen paid Dufrene $90,000. Mullen pocketed over $3 million from the overvalued loans and used the proceeds to buy at least 20 high-end luxury cars.

U.S. Attorney Strasser stated that an indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, Mullen and Dufrene face a maximum sentence of 30 years as to the bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud counts, and a maximum sentence of up to (10) ten years on the money laundering conspiracy and money laundering counts. After imprisonment, the defendants face up to five years of supervised release, and a $1,000,000 fine on the bank fraud counts, and up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on the money laundering counts. Each count also has mandatory special assessment of $100.

U.S. Attorney Strasser commended the special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their handling of the matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Andre Lagarde.

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