A local real estate developer has been charged with bank fraud after prosecutors say he invested part of a loan with a Georgia company instead of a using it to pay construction bills.
Making matters worse, the money was lost in what turned out to be a $25 million pyramid scheme that unraveled last year.
Thomas Oppold Jr. of Mount Pleasant borrowed about $590,080 from federally insured SunTrust Bank in late 2008 or early 2009 to pay a contractor for work on a North Carolina project, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston last week.
Instead, Oppold "diverted these construction loan proceeds for personal use" by sending $500,000 to Atlanta-based CRE Capital Corp., according to court records.
"Unfortunately, he got lured into this Atlanta scheme, and the thing went under," said Oppold's attorney, Joseph Griffith Jr.
Griffith declined to say how Oppold, met CRE Capital operator James G. Ossie.
The Securities and Exchanges Commission filed a lawsuit to halt Ossie on Jan. 15, 2009, not long after Oppold sent him the money.
In court filings, the SEC said more than 120 individuals invested with Ossie starting in 2008. CRE Capital, which claimed to invest in currency trading contracts, guaranteed a 10 percent return every 30 days, the court documents state.
Ossie traded and lost at least $13 million while trading foreign currency, the documents added. In January 2009, he told investors during a conference call that he no longer could make payments on their accounts, according to a court filing.
After the SEC filed its lawsuit, Ossie's assets were turned over to Atlanta-based receiver Michael Fuqua, who could not be reached for comment this week.
Ossie was sentenced to 82 months in prison last August and ordered to pay $18.7 million in restitution to victims.
Griffith said this week he wasn't sure whether Oppold has filed a claim with the receiver for SunTrust's money. Oppold could not be reached for comment, but Griffith said his client has been working with prosecutors to resolve his fraud case.
"We are cooperating fully with the government, and it is our intent to continue to do so," Griffith said.
Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or email@example.com.