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Body shop owner pleads guilty to defrauding TARP-funded banks

The owner of a defunct Higginsville body shop pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to bank fraud.

“This fraud scheme involved two banks that received funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP,” Ketchmark said. “TARP was designed to help financial institutions recover from the economic downturn, not to provide a cash cow that dishonest business owners could plunder. We will hold those accountable who steal from public funds.”

Clint Edward Dukes, 35, of Mayview waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to a federal information that charges him with bank fraud. Dukes was the owner of Dukes Auto Repair in Higginsville from 2004 to 2011.

By pleading guilty today, Dukes admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud First Community Bank, US Bank and First Central Bank from March 2004 to July 2011. In order to obtain approximately $2.8 million in loans from these banks, Dukes falsely claimed to have contracts with the state of Missouri for car repair work and submitted fraudulent invoices to the banks. Dukes filed false financial disclosure statements with these banks to conceal the fact that he used loans from each bank to extinguish previous loans made from the other banks.

First Community Bank and US Bank received funds from TARP, a U.S. Department of the Treasury program.

Dukes’s bank fraud scheme resulted in an actual loss of $2,053,949 to these financial institutions. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Dukes must pay a money judgment in that amount to the government as forfeiture of the proceeds of his criminal activity.

Under federal statutes, Dukes is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William L. Meiners and Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney Kellie Wingate Campbell, who has been designated a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this case. It was investigated by the Higginsville, Mo., Police Department, the FBI and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

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