Feds: Main Line developer fleeced banks

Posted: October 21, 2012

A MAIN LINE developer charged by the U.S. Attorney Thursday with fleecing two banks of more than $13.3 million, allegedly used the money to pay interest on loans for land in Delaware he intended to redevelop into luxurious homes.

Authorities said Michael Pouls, 50, of Gladwyne, induced National Penn Bank in 2007 and the former Wilmington Trust in 2008 to lend the money on the basis of bogus securities statements.

According to the charging document, Pouls obtained two lines of credit - one for himself, and one for a Delaware company he owned - by providing the banks with phony statements showing he had $28.5 million in two investment accounts when the accounts had only $3,000.

Pouls' attorney, Lisa Mathewson, said Pouls had intended to repay both banks when the residential development was completed, but it was never built.

When the real-estate market subsequently tanked, Pouls "panicked," she said, when asked why Pouls resorted to the alleged fraud. "He needed the credit in order to keep his business alive."

A July 2008 description of the proposed development said it was going to be known as "The Active Adult Villages" in Laurel, Del., and would be composed of three "adult resort communities" marketed to people 55 and up.

In addition to individual homes featuring granite counters, hardwood floors and crown moulding, the $1 billion development was supposed to feature such amenities as a horticulture center, woodworking shop, aquatic center, tennis, library and a studio for aerobics and yoga.

"He's making efforts to rectify his wrong, including substantial repayments to lenders," Mathewson said. She declined to say how much has been repaid.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Foa declined to comment on the case.

Mathewson said a Pouls company still owns the land but Pouls is no longer attempting to develop the property in Laurel.


Contact Michael Hinkelman at hinkelm@phillynews.com or 215-854-2656. Follow him on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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