Crime

Financial planner indicted in $500K wire fraud case

Biloxi

A managing partner of a commercial financing business in Gautier said news of his indictment on wire-fraud charges came as a surprise.

An indictment filed in U.S. District Court says Thomas “Lenny” Lepre of Alternative Financing Group sought investors for money to loan to commercial clients but instead used the money himself.

The five counts of wire fraud reportedly involve a total of $519,089.

“This has caught me by complete surprise,” Lepre told the Sun Herald on Wednesday.

“I’m speechless. Nobody has contacted me and I don’t even know what to say.”

Indictment looks back 3 1/2 years

Lepre helped form the business in Gautier in February 2012. Alternative Financing provides loans for commercial real estate, doctor offices, heavy equipment, business acquisitions, mergers and debt consolidation, according to its website.

Lepre’s indictment appeared in online court records Wednesday. It was filed Aug. 23 with a request from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for an arrest warrant. His arraignment is set for Sept. 22.

The indictment alleges Lepre, aided by others, devised a scheme to defraud investors over 3½ years, from December 2012 through July 14, in Harrison and Jackson counties.

Other states

Each wire-fraud charge involves a transfer of money from outside the state to a Wells Fargo bank account in Ocean Springs.

The indictment says the money was wired on five dates from March 5, 2013, through June 10, 2013.

The government seeks a criminal forfeiture in an unspecified amount for property involved in or obtained as a result of the alleged crimes.

Lepre has been a small-business lobbyist for the National Federation of Small Business.

“I just don’t know what to think or say,” he said.

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