Aug. 21--A Wayzata couple behind a derailed Orono commercial construction project have been convicted of forging invoices from subcontractors to skim money from a $6.4 million bank loan intended for the construction.
Jurors on Wednesday convicted Philip L. Carlson, 58, and Virginia M. Carlson, 62, on five counts each of theft by swindle, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2007 and 2008 from the Amber Woods office development project at 2060 Wayzata Blvd. that was never completed.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the Carlsons pulled off the scam by "funneling money through a company they owned, which wasn't doing work on the project, while failing to pay the companies that had done work on the development."
Freeman added that the fraud also "played a role in the demise" of First Commercial Bank of Bloomington, which made the loan.
The Carlsons used their ill-gotten gains to buy expensive cars, snowmobiles and to maintain two homes, Freeman added.
Sentencing for the Carlsons is scheduled for Oct. 30. Prosecutors said they will seek about four years in prison for the defendants.
According to charges, the Carlsons began submitting fake invoices for payment in October 2007. In one instance, Virginia Carlson turned in an invoice for $31,485 to pay Logan Ryan Corp., and forged her son's signature as part of the bill. The son denied he did any work on Amber Woods through a company called Logan Ryan and never sent an invoice or signed his name.
The scheme unraveled when subcontractors complained they had not been paid, even though the bank had given the money to the Carlsons.
First National Bank of Bloomington failed in September 2012. It was acquired by Republic Bank & Trust, based in Louisville, Ky. The failure cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation more than $60 million.
Paul Walsh -- 612-673-4482
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