Lawyer blames bipolar condition for male role in Michael Vorce bank fraud scheme
GRAND RAPIDS – James Jett, a friend of jailed con artist Michael Vorce, was sentenced Monday to 5.5 years in prison for a bank fraud of $ 3.5 million. Vorce is serving 12 years in prison.
The two met in 2006 and began working together in October 2007 – targeting victims involved in large real estate transactions in Wisconsin.
Using online sources, Jett and Vorce were able to obtain Social Security numbers and credit reports, and used computers to create driver’s licenses that looked legitimate, authorities said. The licenses, along with Jett’s photograph, allowed him to open bank accounts in the name of others.
Jett is a graduate of Union High School and Grand Valley State University, according to his Myspace page.
Vorce was under investigation in western Michigan and was cooperating with the FBI, when he and Jett were arrested for fraud in Wisconsin. Vorce, a resident of Alpine Township, admitted last year that his $ 27 million plan in Michigan was to secure loans for at least 30 boats with fraudulent documents and titles. He actually owned four boats.
Vorce owned a large house in Alpine Township and a condo in Miami. He drove an Astin Martin Vanquish, a sports car that typically costs around $ 200,000. Banks seized five plasma TVs, leather home theater chairs and two sport utility vehicles.
Defense attorney William Burke said Jett acted out of desperation, not an attempt to live a high life. He considered the crime inexplicable except for his client’s bipolar disorder. He said Vorce controlled the money and got most of it. The money Jett got went back into the construction business he started in college.
Burke said Jett was in his manic phase when he committed the crimes.
The government said debt was not Jett’s only motivation. He chartered private jets for weekend getaways, bought a boat and was captivated by the exciting lifestyle.
“… Jett was primarily motivated by the desire to live an extravagant lifestyle,” wrote US Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Haanstad in a sentencing memorandum.
Jett came from a good family, he said.
“Jett’s solid upbringing, education, and other perks thus make his offense even more inexplicable, and in some ways make him more guilty than other less fortunate offenders,” Haanstad wrote.
Once released from prison, Jett must serve a five-year sentence on supervised release. He is due to surrender on July 26.
Jett and Vorce used the identities of others to qualify for large loans, the government said. They searched for real estate listings in the Midwest and targeted those who were selling expensive property, believing they would have good credit history and qualify for large loans. They also searched deed records to determine if their targets’ homes were mortgage-free.
Once they got names and personal information, they created driver’s licenses and created emails and phone numbers on prepaid cell phones to open bank accounts. They used this information to get loans online and transferred the money to their accounts.
They then bought gold coins from a California company, then got money from an Arizona company. The account would show the purchase of gold, but not the sale, thus breaking the paper trail.
John Agar email: [email protected]