Former Owner of Historic Home Natchez Hotels Indicted in Multistate Conspiracy to Steal $6.4 Million – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

Former owner of Natchez Hotels, historic house charged with multi-state conspiracy to steal $6.4 million

Posted at 8:38 am on Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Former owner of The Briars and Hotel Vue is among six people charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering by setting up front companies to extract $6.4million from a money-lending firm of funds.

Ryan P. Mullen, 41, of Jayess; Duane A. Dufrene, 55, of Destrehan, Louisiana; Dillon J. Arceneaux, 31, of Marrero, Louisiana; Lance M Vallo, 37, of Gueydan, Louisiana; Grant C. Menard, 35, of Kaplan, Louisiana; and Zeb O. Sartain, 35, of Lafayette, Louisiana, were indicted Friday by a federal grand jury.

This is the second federal indictment in two years for Mullen, who previously owned The Briars and Hotel Vue. He was indicted in October 2020 for using fraudulent means to purchase a home at Jayess, The Briars, Hotel Vue and Super 9 motel.

In indictments last week, federal prosecutors said Mullen and Dufrene conspired with the other four men to use a number of Louisiana shell companies with no assets to defraud a Georgia-based merchant company.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana, Mullen and Dufrene established the other four men as owners of existing companies and then created fake vendor accounts for those companies. “Mullen, with the help of another person, created falsified bank records for the companies,” the statement said. “Mullen then used a pseudonym to present himself as a broker for the companies he helped create.”

Mullen, together with another broker, provided the victim merchant’s cash advance company with the fake vendor accounts and fake bank statements in order to secure funding, the statement said. The cash advance company approved the advances and electronically wired “millions of dollars” in advances to each other for the men. “Arceneaux, Vallo, Menard and Sartain laundered part of the funds by paying percentages to Mullen and Dufrene on the funds,” the statement said.

Arceneaux, Vallo, Menard and Sartain then closed the non-existent businesses before reimbursing the cash advance company in full, resulting in losses of approximately $6.4 million for the business.

If convicted, the individuals face a maximum sentence of five years for the wire fraud conspiracy and a maximum sentence of 20 years for the money laundering conspiracy. Each defendant faces up to three years of supervised release and up to $250,000 in fines for wire fraud. On the money laundering counts, each defendant faces up to three years of supervised release and up to $500,000 in fines. Each chef also carries a mandatory special assessment fee of $100. A notice of forfeiture for fraud filed by the government seeks to confiscate a number of Rolls Royces and Bentleys purchased by Mullen.

Mullen was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020 with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, four counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering. ‘silver. He allegedly used fraudulent means to purchase a home in Jayess, The Briars historic home in Natchez as well as the Vue Hotel and Super 8 Motel.

Additionally, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office allege that Mullen used $3 million he received from lenders by overvaluing properties with fake appraisals to buy at least 20 high-end luxury cars.

Dufrene was also indicted in October 2020 and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of money laundering, according to a press release issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans. .

Keesler Federal Credit Union, which provided funds for Mullen’s purchase of The Briars, seized and took possession of the property, said Jackson attorney Derrick Henderson, who represents Keesler.

Red Oak Capital Group LLC, which loaned Mullen the funds to purchase the Vue Hotel and Super 8 Motel in Natchez, also seized and took possession of these properties.