Christian Peterson, 45, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb to seven years in federal prison following his convictions for bank fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to banks. Peterson was previously convicted of lying about the purpose of a $1.1 million loan for real estate development.
Judge Crabb also sentenced Peterson to five years in prison for stealing his employees’ 401(k) funds, with that sentence to run concurrently with the other sentence. Peterson was convicted of these charges following an eight-day jury trial in May 2014.
Peterson is the former owner of a company called Maverick, Inc., which brokered poly-scrap foam for use in the manufacture of carpet cushion. He also was the owner of the Pancake Café in Fitchburg, Wis., the Pancake Café in Madison, the Country Inn & Suites hotel in Fitchburg, and the Managing Member of a real estate development limited liability company called Peterson Properties of Chicago.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that in 2006-2007, Peterson committed two acts of bank fraud and made false statements to banks by lying to M&I Bank about the purpose of a wire transfer of funds taken from Maverick, Inc.’s $6.25 million business line of credit to a casino in Las Vegas, and by lying to Greenwoods State Bank in Lake Mills, Wis., about the purpose of a $1.1 million loan for real estate development in Fitchburg.
At trial, the jury rejected Peterson’s argument that the money that he wired to the casino from M&I Bank was his own money, and also rejected his arguments that he properly used the funds from Greenwoods State Bank, $300,000 of which went to pay off an existing debt at a different casino in Las Vegas.
In addition to his convictions for bank fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to banks, Peterson was convicted of stealing his former employees’ 401(k) account funds and using the money to pay his former wife $7,500 in alimony and to lend himself $10,000. Due to his conviction for this crime, Peterson has been debarred by the U.S. Department of Labor from ever acting as a fiduciary for a retirement plan.
At sentencing, Judge Crabb rejected Peterson’s argument for an 18-month sentence. She stated that his conduct was nothing short of appalling and that he did extensive damage to this community because of his narcissistic, selfish actions. She noted that even his own siblings called him narcissistic and arrogant and the facts from trial supported that view.
Judge Crabb found that Peterson used his business partners to get loans for purported business reasons, but instead used much of the money for his own personal lifestyle. She stated that the damage done by Peterson to his business partners was incalculable.
As part of her sentence, Judge Crabb also directed that Peterson pay $816,168.57 in restitution to Greenwoods State Bank. Last, due to substantial questions being raised about Peterson’s financial activities after he was convicted in this case, she directed that he immediately be taken into custody at the conclusion the sentencing hearing.
John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced the sentence.
U.S. Attorney Vaudreuil said, “Seven years in prison is justice for a long-term con man who victimized banks, business associates, and friends—all for his own personal gain. He has failed to truly accept the criminality of his conduct, and the length of his sentence reflects that failure.”
The charges against Peterson were the result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul W. Connell and Peter M. Jarosz.