LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The frontman of the Los Angeles rock band Lights Over Paris was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday after bilking more than $11 million from banks and using it to fuel his fantasy of being a rock star, prosecutors said.
Robert Mawhinney, 30, pleaded guilty in April to four counts of making false statements to federally insured banks and one count of money laundering.
Authorities said Mawhinney gave the appearance his musical group was successful. He enlisted rapper The Game for one of his videos and had a customized tour bus emblazoned with the group’s name.
Mawhinney received more than $11 million in loans from four banks. Prosecutors said he gave lenders statements that claimed he had nearly $8 million in assets when actual accounts contained $4,000.
“This is a case about a man who couldn’t qualify to get loans, so he faked up a bunch of documents to show the bank, falsely, that he had enough income and enough assets to be creditworthy,” said Assistant United States Attorney Ranee Katzenstein.
Loan officers visited a recording studio in Burbank to determine if Mawhinney, who used the stage name Robb “TaLLLLL” University, was creditworthy. He said he sought the loans to finish a recording room in the studio, among other expenses, court documents show.
Mawhinney stayed in a 35-story luxury high-rise in downtown Los Angeles and took trips to the Caribbean, Europe and South America. The Anaheim native also used the money to pay for a $750,000 bus for his band.
“The motive was ego and greed. He used the money to spend on trips, on high-living, on funding a musical career which he couldn’t fund through talent and through actual sales of records. He stole the money to fund the fantasy of being a rockstar,” said Katzenstein.
Prosecutors said he attempted to pay off of some of his loans with proceeds he received from earlier payouts but eventually defaulted.
“You don’t pay a bank back $8 million, they notice,” said Katzenstein.
The band released an EP “Turn Off the Lights,” which appeared on Billboard’s Heatseeker Albums chart, and also produced a video entitled “I’m Not A Gangsta,” in which Mawhinney is riding shotgun in a Rolls Royce driven by The Game.
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