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Developer's fraud trial enters second day

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Marion County prosecutors this morning began making their case that Christopher P. White knowingly wrote a bad check for $500,000 last year in a desperate attempt to save his Indianapolis-based development firm, Premier Properties USA Inc.

White, 52, is facing three felony charges including fraud on a financial institution and theft. He allegedly wrote the check to cover payroll as financial and legal troubles were mounting for the company. His jury trial started yesterday in Marion Superior Court.

The check, deposited to an account at The National Bank of Indianapolis, was drawn on an account at JP Morgan Chase that never had a balance of more than $1,000, the prosecutor's office said.

George Keely, an executive at The National Bank of Indianapolis, this morning testified that the bank quickly closed 12 accounts tied to White to limit the bank's exposure after it learned of the bad check.

But White promised the bank the money was coming, so it waited several weeks before it launched a lawsuit and consulted with the prosecutor's office in March 2008. Ultimately, the bank lost about $382,000.

Defense attorney Thomas Collignon said White anticipated receiving funds from a deal in Las Vegas and that he never intended to come up short in the account.

Premier built a reputation for taking on daring projects with little margin for error, including Metropolis mall in Plainfield, but when credit markets tightened, troubles quickly mounted. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2008. A month later, a judge converted the case to Chapter 7 and ordered the company to be liquidated.
 

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