Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Asheville man forfeits $2.7 million in assets, sent to prison in bank fraud case

An Asheville man received a 92-month prison sentence and had to forfeit $2.77 million in assets following bank fraud and weapon convictions.

U.S District Court Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Shawn Thomas Johnson, 38, on Thursday during a hearing in Asheville. Johnson will be on probation for three years following his release from prison. Johnson also was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Johnson executed a bank fraud scheme from 2012 to 2019 involving the purchase of short-term rental properties in Buncombe County.

Johnson acquired the loans to purchase the properties by submitting applications that contained false information, including falsely claiming that the homes would be used as primary residences, false statements related to his income and employment, and omitting information about pending lawsuits and the source of funds used as down-payments.

Once the loan applications were approved and Johnson bought the properties, he used them as short-term rentals and listed them on online platforms such as Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO. Buncombe County zoning and local ordinances prohibited the use of many of these homes as short-term rentals.

Johnson also recruited others to obtain mortgage loans based on false information to purchase homes that Johnson would then list as short-term rentals and share the proceeds.

During the course of the scheme, Johnson and his co-conspirators closed on at least 16 loans from financial institutions totaling more than $3.5 million to purchase real estate.

The weapons charge relates to a November 2021 incident in Utah. Johnson rented a firearm and shot several boxes of ammunition he purchased from a store while visiting the state. Johnson has two prior convictions for manufacturing and uttering counterfeit United States currency and he is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

He lied on the gun club’s rental agreement to obtain the gun, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Johnson earlier pleaded guilty to bank fraud and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charges. He will be ordered to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his sentence upon designation of a federal facility.

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