COLUMBUS—Benjamin W. Richardson, 47, of Powell, and a former Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to a total of 50 months in prison for participating in a mortgage fraud conspiracy, committing bankruptcy fraud, and tampering with a witness in a federal investigation. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $617,600 to lenders he deceived through the mortgage fraud.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Robert Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost.
“Richardson had sworn to uphold the law,” U.S. Attorney Stewart said. “Instead, he broke the law.”
Richardson was part of a conspiracy to defraud lending institutions by misleading mortgage lenders in the buying and selling of investment properties and the refinancing of his own home. Richardson and other co-conspirators used false statements to conceal from lenders that Richardson intended to receive large sums of money from the loan proceeds after closing. Richardson also admitted to falsely under-reporting his income when he filed for bankruptcy in 2007 by not disclosing income he received from a nightclub he owned with a narcotics trafficker.
Richardson pleaded guilty on February 13, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of making false statements and false oaths in bankruptcy, and one count of witness tampering for a scheme to prevent a narcotics trafficker from talking with law enforcement during the investigation. He was sentenced to 50 months and three years of supervised release on each of the eight counts. Judge Frost ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
“Not only did Richardson participate in multiple fraudulent schemes involving his property and the property of others, he also, as a seasoned law enforcement officer, tampered with a witness involved in a federal investigation,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Squires wrote in a memorandum filed with the court prior to sentencing. Richardson provided a known drug trafficker his cell phone number in case he got into trouble, and as result of this exchange, Richardson encouraged a fellow state trooper to show the drug trafficker leniency during a traffic stop.
FBI agents arrested Richardson on September 6, 2011. He has been in custody since his arrest. Richardson was a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol when he was charged and resigned when the charges were returned.
Stewart commended the cooperative investigation of this case by FBI and DEA agents and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Squires and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Fulton, who prosecuted the case.