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Destrehan man part of duo charged with bank fraud & money laundering

NEW ORLEANS – Destrehan resident Duane A. Dufrene, 53, was part of a duo indicted on Oct. 16 by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering, in addition to multiple counts of substantive bank fraud and money laundering.

Also indicted was Ryan P. Mullen, 39, of Jayess, Mississippi, according to U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

According to the charges, Dufrene and Mullen allegedly utilized fictitious entities, falsified tax returns and provided fraudulent financial statements and appraisals to orchestrate their scheme to defraud the lenders for the purchases of a residence in Jayess, Mississippi (State Bank and Trust), The Briars Bed and Breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi (Keesler Federal Credit Union) and two other Natchez hotels (Red Oak Capital Group, LLC).

The indictment states that the sale of the Jayess residence was premised on false financial information provided by Dufrene to Mullen, who gave it to the State Bank. Agreements between Dufrene and Mullen also allegedly led to inflated appraisals in these sales. After the sales of the bed and breakfast and hotel properties, Mullen reportedly paid Dufrene $90,000. Mullen was also said to have pocketed more than $3 million from the overvalued loans, using the proceeds to buy at least 20 high-end luxury cars.

U.S. Attorney Strasser stated that an indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, Mullen and Dufrene face a maximum sentence of 30 years as to the bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud counts, and a maximum sentence of up to 10 years on the money laundering conspiracy and money laundering counts. After imprisonment, the defendants face up to five years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine on the bank fraud counts, and up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on the money laundering counts. Each count also has mandatory special assessment of $100.

U.S. Attorney Strasser commended the special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their handling of the matter. Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Andre Lagarde are prosecuting the case.