NEW ORLEANS – DUANE A. DUFRENE, 54, of Destrehan, Louisiana, pleaded guilty on November 24, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of money laundering before a judge of the United States District Court. United for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jane Triche Milazzo, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
As stated in the now unsealed indictment, DUFRÈNE and a co-conspirator, Ryan Mullen, used fictitious entities, fake tax returns, fraudulent financial statements and fraudulent appraisals to orchestrate their scheme to defraud lenders to purchase a home in Jayess, MS (State Bank and Trust), The Briars bed and breakfast in Natchez, MS (Keesler Federal Credit Union) and two other Natchez hotels (Red Oak Capital Group, LLC). The sale of the Jayess residence was based on false financial information provided by DUFRÈNE to Mullen, who then sold it to the State Bank and Trust. The sales of The Briars and the two hotels were not only based on false information prepared by DUFRÈNE and given to financial institutions by Mullen but also on inflated valuations based on side sale agreements between Mullen and DUFRÈNE. After sales of bed and breakfasts and hotel properties, Mullen paid DUFRÈNE the sum of $ 90,000. Mullen pocketed more than $ 3 million from the overvalued loans and used the proceeds to buy at least 20 high-end luxury cars, a number of which were seized by the United States.
Conviction for DUFRÈNE is set for February 23, 2022. On that date, he incurs a maximum penalty of up to thirty (30) years for the conspiracy of bank fraud, and a maximum penalty of up to ten years for the conspiracy of money laundering. ‘money. After imprisonment, the defendant faces up to five (5) years of supervised release, and up to $ 1,000,000 in fines for bank fraud, and up to three (3) years of supervised release, and up to $ 1,000,000 in fines for bank fraud, and up to three (3) years of supervised release. ‘to a $ 250,000 fine on the money laundering count. Each count also carries a mandatory special assessment fee of $ 100.
U.S. Attorney Evans commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agents for their handling of the case. The case is being pursued by Deputy United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Andre Lagarde.