An Indianapolis real estate broker and two associates accused of defrauding the state and a bank appeared in federal court Thursday.
John M. Bales II, 44, the president of Venture Real Estate Services in Indianapolis, his partner and general counsel William E. Spencer, 44, of Carmel, and Indianapolis developer and attorney Paul J. Page, 47, were each indicted Wednesday with one count of conspiracy to defraud, one count of bank fraud, three counts of mail fraud and eight counts of wire fraud.
Page was also charged with one count of making false statements to influence the actions of a bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
In 2006, the state hired Venture to find building space to rent for government agencies in a contract that prohibited the company and its partners and employees from having any ownership interest in the properties.
But prosecutors allege that Bales repeatedly put government agencies into buildings he owned or that were owned by friends and associates.
According to the indictment, the men defrauded an unnamed bank by borrowing $531,000 without disclosing they weren't investing their own money.
Prosecutors said Venture was paid $88,400 in commission on the lease deal, but then took more than a year to pay back $22,100 to the state as required under the deal. The company also got a $28,875 broker's fee and a $22,700 development fee, even though it told the state it would only be compensated through the commissions, the indictment alleges.
Bales' attorney adamantly denied the charges.
"There was no hanky-panky. There were no secret straw buyers. This was all above board," said attorney Larry Mackey. "What John Bales is going to do is demonstrate to the trial jury that no crime was committed."
The indictment points to a lease deal in Elkhart for the Department of Child Services where office space was acquired in a building jointly owned by Page and former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.
Brizzi has not been charged in connection with the case, but Page's attorney said he believes federal investigators are really interested in zeroing in on Brizzi.
"It appears that he (Page) just got caught in the middle of some battle going on that is not his," said attorney Bob Hammerle. "It is just ghastly that he has to be informed that he's been indicted, a week before Christmas, just ghastly."
The defendants are free on bond. Their trial is set for Feb. 21.
Copyright Copyright 2011 by
All rights reserved.
This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.