Couple stole hundreds of thousands from a building project and helped collapse a bank

Categories: Crime

building.jpg
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

On its face, the plan was perfect. Virginia and Philip Carlson would develop a building project, secure loans from a bank, and fiddle around a bit with the contracts to grab some money for themselves. They'd buy cars. Snowmobiles. Even help pay for a second home.

But it didn't work. The plan ran out in early 2008, and yesterday, the couple was found guilty of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the project, helping lead to the collapse of a local bank.

See also:
Colin and Andrea Chisholm's real-life American hustle

The ruse started with an office project, called Amber Woods, that the Carlsons were building. Consisting of five office duplexes, it would bring in business and hopefully major income to the couple. It was a joint project, with the Carlsons' company working together with a different group, called Hilloway East. The Carlsons were the developer and the contractor.

But nearly as quickly as they broke ground in 2007, the Carlsons started grabbing cash. The trick was simple: The Carlsons would go to First Commerical Bank in Bloomington, which authorized more than $6 million in loans on the project. They would make up documents from a company they'd hired to work on the project, asking for a check so they could pay for certain services. They'd bring that request to First Commercial Bank, and it would hand them a check. Which they would keep.

The Carlsons kept pulling the fakery off, over and over again. First asking for money to give to a construction company. Then landscaping. Even one for a fake company called Logan Ryan that the couple said was run by Virginia Carlson's son. Through July 2008, they were just taking the money and putting it right in their own pockets, helping to finance cars and homes.

"It was an artifice, a trick," said Hennepin County Attorney Emery Adoradio.

By the time they were caught in 2008, the Carlsons had left behind a trail of destruction: an unfinished project, a bank stuck with hundreds of thousands in debt, and business partners and workers left out in the cold, out of money due to a couple's greed. The Carlsons had left their mark.

In total, the couple pulled in more than $3.1 million in loans from First Commercial, with hundreds of thousands never even reaching the development project. The bank faced other problems, but losing so much money left it in a far worse position.

The county is seeking to put the couple in jail for four years for the crimes.


Send your story tips to the author, Robbie Feinberg. Follow him on Twitter @robbiefeinberg.




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17 comments
Travis J. Lee
Travis J. Lee

I love this commentary. I totally agree, 4 years is quite too short. After that, it's a free-for-all. "That's democrats for ya!", "that's them republicans for ya!", "stupid whites!", "greedy blacks!" Really, pretty sure in every race, political party, demographic, upbringing, and financial stability, they all have assholes. Greed and dishonesty doesn't discriminate.

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

No difference between these guys and the Democrats locally and nationally. 

truckmeyer
truckmeyer

It's that Libertarian free market we've been clamoring for. See how well it works? It self regulates, people. Get a clue. Obviously, this situation is best for everyone involved.

Now, I know what you're going to say: "But what about the innocent employees whose livelihoods have been dashed through no fault of their own?"

Suck it, hippie! The employees of these ruined businesses need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work harder. They should starve and freeze to death until they learn not to make the mistake of working for crooks.

(We don't coddle the innocent anymore. That's how those reds lost the Cold War...too much coddling of the innocent. At least that's how I'll be rewriting history. Anyway, I digress.)

But they'll probably leach off the "job creators" by taking unemployment benefits, and Obamacare, and bankruptcy court, and welfare. Boo hoo! Stupid takers!

End the socialist safety net! End it now! All hail the plutocratic oligarchy!

Tim Thorn
Tim Thorn

How dare they play the same game banks do!

Amanda L. McLane
Amanda L. McLane

If they are truly guilty of this, how is FOUR years a just punishment?

Harry Beckwith
Harry Beckwith

"On its face, the plan was perfect." Was "perfect" redefined? I need to do more dictionarying.

Maggie Strugala
Maggie Strugala

Terrible! Greed and Selfishness is something I will never really understand.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

While the "they all do it" is a simple thought free response to such matters, certain personality types are attracted to the politics of the various political parties. In a cases of greed and profit at ALL costs there is only one party that fits the bill. Who fights fair wages, unions and worker protections at every turn? Who do the CEOs of America's greediest, dirties, least tax paying companies support? Who fights tooth and nail to ensure that the least among us has as little as possible while handing the wealthiest among us everything they ask for? Who is fighting with any and all means to ensure that health insurance is kept in private hands and that its kept out of reach for the poorest among us?

Of course there are assholes of every stripe, but don't kid yourself, greedy assholes lean very heavily in one particular political direction.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

I looked it up, 4 years is the statutory sentence for hundreds of thousands in fraud perpetrated by white defendant. There are no guidelines for other races in cases like this because none of them would have gotten this type of business arrangement in the first place.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

@kurt124 Except they are both registered Republicans. Both donated heavily to Michelle Bachmann's presidential run. Prosecutors have contacted her campaign trying to recoup the stolen cash.


TC4L
TC4L

White crimes

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