A Billings man’s sentencing in New York for a $43 million fraud scheme has been bumped back, pending new charges of fraud.
Todd Capser, 48, was set to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Friday. On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed a letter with the court asking for the hearing to be pushed back.
Prosecutors believe Capser “has engaged in a distinct fraud while awaiting sentencing,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Schrier. The government does not want Capser to be sentenced in the current case before the judge hears the new allegations.
Prosecutors had anticipated filing new charges against Capser before the Friday sentencing but have yet to do so, “due to potential venue issues,” Schrier wrote.
Capser lives in Montana.
In July, Capser admitted the scheme, which involved misleading a Toronto lender in order to secure a $43 million loan, and then turning to nine other financial institutions in hopes of landing refinancing loans of between $46 million and $52 million.
The money was to pay for chemical and oil shipping tankers bought from a Hong Kong shipping firm. Capser spent the entire $43 million loan on the tankers, according to defense filings, with the intention of leasing them back to the shipping company for $8,500 a day, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors in New York say Capser later fraudulently obtained documents from a private wealth management service, then altered those documents and falsified others to make it look like he held an investment portfolio worth tens of millions of dollars that could serve as loan collateral.
Capser also created fake email accounts for employees of the wealth management company, then sent emails from those fake accounts to the lenders Capser was seeking money from, backing up Capser’s claims about the investment portfolio.
Capser overstated his assets to the lenders by claiming he owned a cattle company and ranch, prosecutors say, and lied about his daughter having terminal cancer to "engender sympathy, deflect questions and explain suspicious behavior," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
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The scheme played out between January 2016 and April 2019.
Capser pleaded guilty to wire fraud under a plea agreement, according to filings by his attorney. He was originally indicted on wire fraud, conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
The guideline range calls for Capser to serve 121-151 months in prison, or roughly between 10 and 12.5 years, defense filings note.
Defense attorney Phillip Weinstein will argue for less prison time, saying Third Eye Capital, the Toronto lender his client defrauded, stands to gain roughly $12,600 to $17,500 after the shipping tankers are sold, beyond the amount Capser owed in principal and interest.
Weinstein did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
Capser is still defending himself in a lawsuit by Third Eye Capital. The lender sued Capser along with his father, Edward Michael Capser, in April.
Filings by Edward Capser say his son "intentionally duped his father" into signing on to the $43 million loan application by giving him single pages to sign, without the accompanying full document. Edward Capser trusted his son and did not know the documents would be used to fraudulently obtain a loan, he said.
Capser's attorney in the lawsuit did not dispute that.
"Todd has always maintained that his dad was not guilty of anything," said civil defense attorney Mark Parker.