Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Erpenbeck to plead not guilty

Home builder accused of writing $258,399 bad check

By Patrick Crowley pcrowley@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Home builder William A. “Bill” Erpenbeck will plead not guilty Friday to charges he wrote a $258,399 bad check to a contractor, his lawyer said Monday night.

        Florence lawyer Burr Travis also said he will ask a Boone District Court judge to set a preliminary hearing date so he can present Mr. Erpenbeck's defense.

Click here for all Enquirer reports on Erpenbeck Co.
If you have any additional information on the business dealings of the Erpenbeck Co. or Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky - or on the involvement of any parties not yet identified in our coverage - please email Enquirer business reporter James McNair at jmcnair@enquirer.com or Kentucky Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley at pcrowley@enquirer.com.
        “We anticipate entering a not guilty plea, and my intent is to ask for the appropriate time to review records and documents from the bank and from The Erpenbeck Co. to prepare for a preliminary hearing,” Mr. Travis said.

        v Mr. Travis would offer no other details of Mr. Erpenbeck's defense.

        He did say he met for about two hours Monday with Mr. Erpenbeck, who intends to attend Friday's arraignment. Mr. Erpenbeck has a home in Crestview Hills but has been staying with his family at their Fort Myers, Fla., condominium.

        Mr. Erpenbeck, 41, turned himself in to Boone County Sheriff's deputies May 10 after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was charged with one count of theft by deception over $300 for writing a $258,399 check in February to Morris Heating and Cooling of Burlington that The Erpenbeck Co. could not cover with available funds. If convicted, Mr. Erpenbeck could face one to five years in prison.

        His family posted a bond later that day and Mr. Erpenbeck was released after about 90 minutes in custody.

        The Erpenbeck Co., which Mr. Erpenbeck founded in 1993, is under investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in Cincinnati for allegations of bank fraud.

        An estimated $15 million in checks made out to mortgage lenders were diverted into Erpenbeck business accounts at Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, according to bank officials and lawsuits filed against Mr. Erpenbeck, The Erpenbeck Co. and the bank.

        The Boone County Sheriff's Department is also investigating a criminal complaint filed by a Richwood woman who claims she paid the Erpenbeck Co. $160,000 for a condominium only to discover her money was not used to pay for the home.

        Also on Monday Mr. Erpenbeck, who already faces dozens of lawsuits from contractors seeking payment for work done on Erpenbeck-built homes, was served with notice of nine more lawsuits filed against him and the company in Kenton Circuit Court.

        Mr. Travis said Mr. Erpenbeck received the papers at his Florence law office. Mr. Travis, however, is not representing Mr. Erpenbeck in civil matters.

        Glenn Whitaker, a Cincinnati lawyer, is handling the lawsuits and any possible federal charges against Mr. Erpenbeck.


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