Mark Avalos, 49, St. Peters, Missouri,pled guilty to bank fraud charges relating to his work as the Controller for The Mortgage Store, Inc. in 2008.
According to court documents, The Mortgage Store, Inc. (TMS) was a major mortgage brokering business with offices in four states and hundreds of employees. The main offices were in Westport Plaza and Wentzville.
The businesses were operating at a financial deficit in 2008. There were not sufficient funds available to fund the disbursements from TMS and, in addition, to meet all of the expenses incurred by TMS. In order to meet certain expenses and, at the same time, conceal the absence of adequate funds, Avalos and others at TMS caused insufficient funds checks drawn on the checking accounts of both TMS and Title America to be deposited between those accounts in such a way that the “float” concealed the true balances of each account. The accounts were at Enterprise Bank in Clayton and at the First Bank of the Lake in Osage Beach, Missouri.
The TMS account had a negative balance of approximately $850,000 in June, 2008, when the banks stopped accepting the floated checks. TMS went out of business shortly thereafter.
Avalos pled guilty to one felony count of bank fraud before United States District Judge Henry E. Autrey. Sentencing has been set for March 16, 2015.
He now faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or fines up to $1 million. (Although court documents show that the parties are requesting a lesser sentence due, in part, to Avalos’ cooperation in the investigation.) In determining the actual sentence, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
Jason Rauschelbach and John York, the owners of TMS, pled guilty earlier this year to charges stemming from the TMS business. Rauschelbach is presently serving a 24 month prison sentence following that guilty plea, and York is scheduled to be sentenced on February 2, 2015.
This case was investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the Inspector General Offices of HUD and the Department of Labor as well as the Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney James E. Crowe, Jr., is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.