L.A. Rocker Charged with $6 Million Loan Fraud (Video)
Lights Over Paris frontman Robert Mawhinney tricked banks into funding his extravagant lifestyle, authorities say.
When it came to living like a rock star, Robert Mawhinney was a natural.
Performing under the stage name Robb University as the frontman for the band Lights Over Paris, the 30-year-old lived in a luxury condo in downtown L.A. when he wasn't jetting around the world, partying like an A-lister in the Caribbean, Europe and South America.
Mawhinney also found the time to oversee the construction of a $750,000 tour bus -- a "futureliner" emblazoned with the band's logo and designed to have the nose of an airplane and retractable wings.
The video for Lights Over Paris' song "Turn Off the Lights" has 1.4 million views on YouTube, but how does a relatively unknown musician with just one EP under his belt bankroll that kind of extravagance? According to federal authorities, Mawhinney did it by freely spending money procured from misbegotten bank loans.
Court documents reveal that over a two-year period that began in August 2009, Mawhinney sought out loans from Comerica Inc. amounting to $6.2 million, the Associated Press reports. He persuaded them to do this by providing documented evidence that claimed he had more than $8 million in assets. In reality, he had roughly $10,000 in his bank account, authorities said.
Comerica officials did their due diligence by visiting Mawhinney at a Burbank recording studio, where he allegedly convinced them that he was a successful songwriter.
Two brothers who ran that facility, Matt Salazar, 29, and Jason Salazar, 28, have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit loan fraud, according to court documents, acknowledging that they provided false documents to three banks in pursuit of Mawhinney's loans.
Mawhinney was arrested at Miami International Airport in early January after returning from a trip to Buenos Aires. He's being held without bond after a U.S. magistrate judge determined he posed a flight risk, swayed by prosecutors who argued that Mawhinney had wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cyprus.
If found guilt, yMawhinney faces up to 30 years in prison.
Watch him give a tour of the still-under-construction"futureliner" in this video: