RSS feed of this blog

Fraud probe loss tops $15 million

RELATED: See more crime news from the Fredericksburg region

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Detectives have now identified about 45 people whose total losses exceeded $15 million in a case involving a local real estate investor under investigation for fraud.

Fredericksburg Police Department Detective Wayne Hunnicutt met with an FBI agent Friday afternoon to discuss the investigation involving longtime area resident James Ashby Moncure.

Moncure, 41, is being investigated on claims that he borrowed money from people and did not use the funds for the stated purpose of making real estate investments in the area. On March 4, he sent a long email to noteholders indicating that he would not be able to repay the promissory notes despite his original good intentions.

Since the email went out, Fredericksburg police and the FBI have been jointly investigating the case under code sections involving obtaining money by false pretense and securities fraud. The FBI has assigned an agent from its Richmond division.

Though no charges have been filed, police say there could ultimately be a separate charge for each victim.

Not all of the roughly 45 noteholders identified so far are local, said Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe. She said others who lost money can contact Detective Hunnicutt to provide their information.

Bledsoe said police are aware of the current whereabouts of Moncure, a Stafford County native who graduated from North Stafford High School and Mary Washington College.

Police have now obtained warrants to search nine banks for financial records associated with Moncure and his wife between January 2009 and this past March 14: Virginia Partners Bank, Central Pacific Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Union First Market Bank, Stellar One Bank, PNC Bank, Bank of America, BB&T and Wells Fargo Bank.

Moncure withdrew “large amounts of cash” from several banks the day before the email went out to noteholders and others in the community, according to a search warrant affidavit filed Thursday in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. The affidavit also indicates that $1.286 million was wired from one of Moncure’s accounts with Virginia Partners Bank to several other banks between this past Jan. 8 and Jan. 29.

“By obtaining copies of Moncure’s bank statements, wire transfers, deposits, etc., your Affiant intends to follow the money trail and ascertain what Moncure actually used the victim’s money for,” reads the affidavit.

Last week, police searched a home at 1200 William St. in the city that Moncure has owned since July 2011 and seized financial records and computer hardware.

Police have learned that Moncure received a loan for $100,000 just 10 days prior to the email being sent, according to the affidavit filed Thursday. The money was supposed to be used for a land investment near the Quantico Corporate Center development in North Stafford.

In addition to being a partner in the QCC along with his two brothers, Moncure owns all or parts of 16 different properties, most of which are in the area, according to a financing statement filed in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. The properties are owned either by Moncure himself or through limited liability companies including Moncure Valley, Saranna, Quantico Business Center, Quantico Business Center II, Moncure Brothers and Minor Moncure.

Union First Market Bank and a division of the Silver Cos. are among those with claims against Moncure, according to court documents. Silver is developing the QCC, which is on land the Moncure brothers received from Stafford in a land swap finalized a decade ago.

Silver Capital, a division of the development firm, this past August lent Moncure $400,000 in the form of a promissory note, according to the financing statement. The loan was to be repaid with proceeds from sales of real estate Moncure owns.

Union First Market Bank recently received a judgment of roughly $1.9 million in Caroline County Circuit Court against Moncure. The judgment, which involved four separate cases, also requires Moncure to pay the bank 18 percent interest and costs.

Moncure is represented by attorney Steven T. Webster of the Alexandria-based law firm Webster Book LLP. Webster said in an email that he has been asked to make “appropriate arrangements” to repay Moncure’s lenders. He asked the community to withhold judgment until all the facts are known.

It is unclear how the borrowed money was used. In his March 4 email to noteholders, Moncure referenced that he used an Ameritrade account and became overextended. The email also noted the risks of using leverage and the options market.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405