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Feb. 13, 2012

Former State Trooper Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Witness Tampering

COLUMBUS—Former Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Benjamin W. Richardson, 46, of Powell, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to an eight-count indictment charging him with mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and witness tampering.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Anthony Marotta, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced the pleas entered today before U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost.

FBI agents arrested Richardson on September 6, 2011 based on similar charges in a criminal complaint. He has been in custody since his arrest. The indictment was returned on September 8, 2011 under seal and has since been unsealed. Richardson was a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol when he was charged and resigned when the charges were returned.

"A federal investigation revealed that Richardson engaged in a scheme to enrich himself and avoid personal liabilities," an FBI agent testified during the hearing.

Richardson admitted that, in 2005, he engaged in a conspiracy to defraud mortgage lending institutions out of $678,275 in loans by means of false and fraudulent pretenses involving three properties he was buying and the refinancing of his own home. Richardson also admitted to falsely under-reporting his income when he filed for bankruptcy in 2007 by not disclosing income he received from a nightclub he owned at the time.

Richardson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Each crime is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements and false oaths in bankruptcy. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison. Richardson also pleaded guilty to one count of witness tampering for attempting to prevent a witness from talking with law enforcement during the investigation. Witness tampering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Stewart commended the cooperative investigation of this case by FBI and DEA agents, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Squires and Laura Denton, who are prosecuting the case.

Judge Frost will schedule a date for sentencing.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio

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