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Premier Properties founder gets home detention for fraud

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A judge on Wednesday afternoon sentenced Christopher P. White to one year on home detention and three years of probation in connection with a $500,000 bad check he wrote last year as he tried to save his real estate development firm, Premier Properties USA Inc.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Robert Altice also ordered White to pay $382,000 in restitution to The National Bank of Indianapolis during a sentencing hearing, and said he would consider shortening the term of probation if White can reimburse the bank for its losses.

A jury in August found White guilty of three Class C felonies, but Altice merged the charges into one count of fraud on a financial institution. White did not testify at the hearing.

Altice said he opted for leniency since White has no prior criminal convictions and did not write the bad check out of greed. Rather, he used it to make payroll as financial and legal troubles were brewing for the company he founded. The check, deposited to an account at The National Bank of Indianapolis, was drawn on an account at JP Morgan Chase with a balance of less than $1,000.

Prosecutors asked the judge for a four-year prison sentence, saying White essentially robbed the bank, using trust instead of fear. George Keely, a bank executive, testified that the bank also lost money on a home-equity line of credit with White.

Defense attorney Luther Garcia pointed out that the bank's relationship with White and Premier Properties, the developer of the Metropolis shopping center in Plainfield, had been plenty lucrative for the bank over the years. He said NBI earned $950,000 on a business line of credit in 2007 alone.

The judge sympathized with the point, adding that the bank had given White breathing room before he wrote the bad check, and even after he wrote it, based on his word.

"Mr. White made them a lot of money over the years," Altice said.

Altice said he received several letters from friends and former associates attesting to White's character. His longtime attorney, Bruce Smith, took the stand Wednesday to do the same.

He said White, 52, who was worth $150 million when Indianapolis-based Premier was thriving just a few years ago, has since lost all of his equity in projects, is in the process of losing the second of two homes, and has filed for personal bankruptcy.

White has been getting by with help from his brother and parents, and is trying to find a way to claw back into the real estate business, Smith said. He declined to discuss the hearing's outcome with a reporter.

"He's basically lost everything," said Smith, who most recently served as Premier's general counsel.

Premier built a reputation for taking on daring projects with little margin for error, 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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  • Fool me once, fool me twice
    His reputation his been seriously damaged. Anyone who gives this man another chance in the future shouldn't be surprised when all of a sudden the money is gone. Once a crooked bastard always a crooked bastard.
  • What about the businsses with UNPAID invoices
    As a business owner who got taken by White, no judge asked us whether his sentencing was fair. I would hope if White claws his way back into the real estate market, doors will SLAM IN HIS FACE!!!
  • What is the judge thinking??
    Mr. White will just leverage somebody elses money to pay back the bank and build another 'house-of-cards' in the process, in the end leaving somebody with the obligation....
  • failed justice system
    Had that been any other person they would have been thrown in prison even if they had no prior convictions. He should lose everything and people should not feel sorry him. Just goes to show you that people with lots of money can get away with anything.
  • Altice a joke
    The judge in this case really blew it ! This man is a tried and tested thief. Did he ask all the buisness people and private individuals who lost big in Hendricks County.I wonder what they all think about justice tonight. This country is in trouble when peopleget away with this..
  • Whosenext
    Maybe the boys at Lauth will get the same leniency for their fraud and racketeering charges!!!!

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