Wednesday, July 10, 2002

FBI reviews Erpenbeck files


Details on loan closings, e-mail targeted

By James McNair, jmcnair@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Several months into its bank fraud investigation of the Erpenbeck Co., the FBI has hauled off a large amount of company files, including home-sale documents and checks dating to 1999.

        The FBI could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the report. But Mike Barrett, a Cincinnati lawyer who represents company president Jeff Erpenbeck, said the agency served a subpoena on the Edgewood-based home builder in late June. The formal demand called for individual loan-closing folders, copies of checks issued at closing, and the names of Erpenbeck employees attending closings.

STORY ARCHIVE
Click here for all Enquirer reports on Erpenbeck Co.
INVESTIGATION
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.
        “The Erpenbeck Co. and Jeff Erpenbeck have been completely cooperative in terms of anything that's been requested,” Mr. Barrett said Tuesday.

        The lawyer also said the FBI is trying to obtain e-mail communications involving specified Erpenbeck employees.

        FBI agents have been conducting interviews since the first of the year and later issued subpoenas to title insurance companies and other businesses with financial ties to Erpenbeck. Among the banks that has provided the government with records and copies of checks is Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, which had the closest banking relationship with the builder.

        Erpenbeck, Greater Cincinnati's third-largest home builder in 2000, has defaulted on upwards of $75 million in construction loans from numerous banks, including U.S. Bank, Bank One, PNC Bank and Peoples. Subsequent investigation revealed that about $25 million from home-sale closings was diverted, leaving more than 200 home buyers with two mortgages to pay off.

        The imbroglio has spawned a torrent of lawsuits pitting Erpenbeck, banks, home buyers, title companies and subcontractors against each other. No criminal charges have been filed other than a bad check charge against A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck, who resigned as president of Erpenbeck Co. in March.

        Down to a handful of employees, Erpenbeck Co. is attempting to salvage projects through workout agreements with its banks.

       



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