Two men pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to defraud a bank in order to pay outstanding debts on a Tennessee development in early 2011.

Michael Craig Brewster and Edmond Cash were arraigned on conspiracy to commit fraud and bank fraud charges Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in Rome. Both men were released on their own recognizance after the hearing.

The indictment, filed on February 10 came in just under wire. Federal bank fraud has a 10 year statute of limitations.

According to the indictment:

The two men, alongside LaDonna Barton, are accused of conspiring to take out a loan in order to pay off debts derived from the Longbranch Lakes development in Spencer, Tennessee.

Cash was the lead developer for the project, Barton was an employee and investor in the development and Brewster, a senior loan officer and executive vice president at River City Bank, also was an investor in the project.

Brewster facilitated a loan of $219,629.27 to Barton on the premise that Barton was purchasing property at the development.

“In reality, Barton was not purchasing the property listed in the loan,” the indictment stated. “The defendants applied for the loan to pay Cash’s and his business partners’ past due loans, to pay for the operating costs for Longbranch Lakes Properties, LLC, and to pocket the remaining loan proceeds.”

The indictment sets up a timeline between Feb. 24, 2011, and March 28, 2011, where Brewster claimed he believed Barton was purchasing two lots at the development when confronted in the River City Bank Board of Directors meeting.

A pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for March 4 in front of U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones.

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