20 months for planner in Burlco mortgage scheme

Posted: February 23, 2014

CAMDEN A former financial planner from Bucks County was sentenced Friday to 20 months in prison for his role in a mortgage scheme that defrauded a dozen banks of about $2 million over a three-year period ending in May 2010.

After cooperating and pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, William Barksdale, 47, of Levittown, will be expected to testify at the conspiracy trials of four of his clients and associates, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

They are former Eagles wide receiver Irving Fryar, 51, of Springfield Township, Burlington County; Fryar's mother, Allene McGhee, 72, of Willingboro; and Alfred Dennis, 51, and Carla Dennis, 50, of Westampton. The four have been indicted on charges they participated in the scam and are awaiting trial in Superior Court in Mount Holly.

Barksdale, who owned investment, business, and mortgage-counseling businesses, broke down and apologized to U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler before receiving a sentence that includes five years of supervision after his release from prison. "I made a mistake, and I deeply regret it every day," he said. "I just ask for leniency for the sake of my family and my four kids. It's really hard."

Barksdale admitted assisting several Burlington County clients in a scheme in which they simultaneously applied for multiple home-equity loans using their homes as collateral to obtain amounts they normally would not qualify to receive.

The state Attorney General's Office said Fryar and McGhee conspired to defraud five banks by applying for $690,000 in loans over a six-day period without informing any of the banks that they were obtaining the other loans. The Dennises allegedly got six loans, totaling more than $925,000, within 11 days and used a single property as collateral for all of the loans.

Kugler asked Assistant U.S. Attorney R. David Walk Jr. how much of the $2 million Barksdale had "pocketed" and "what happened to the money?" Walk's reply: "Some of it went to Mr. Barksdale, and the bulk went to the borrowers." Walk said Barksdale had set up an account and then provided the money to the borrowers.

At an arraignment last month, the defense attorneys of Fryar and McGhee said their clients had been victimized by Barksdale when they had turned to him for help in getting a loan. Mark Fury, McGhee's lawyer, said the financial planner had used his client's signature and the collateral of her home to obtain the multiple loans without her knowledge.

But Robert Agre, a Cherry Hill lawyer who represents Barksdale, dismissed the allegations. "The borrowers were getting money they needed to pay off existing obligations," to avoid foreclosure and to pay off debts to lawyers and the IRS, he said.

Agre said Barksdale got "a fraction" of the money and was mainly trying to help friends and acquaintances who needed money. He pointed to numerous letters written to the judge attesting to Barksdale's character and contributions to the community. Barksdale also had no prior record.

Agre said Barksdale's life had been difficult, beginning with his witnessing, at age 4, the shotgun murder of his mother and grandmother. His stepfather committed the crime, Agre said, and Barksdale later had to live with a father he did not know and an abusive stepmother.

The judge said that Barksdale had "demonstrated heartfelt remorse" at the hearing and that his cooperation warranted leniency. Kugler also said he was impressed by the "outpouring of support" for Barksdale. He will be ordered to make restitution, the judge said, but the amount will be determined at a future hearing.


jhefler@phillynews.com

856-779-3224 @JanHefler

www.inquirer.com/burlcobuzz

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