Fraud case

A Little Rock man has been sentenced to federal prison after making false statements on loan applications, costing banks and lenders more than $3.3 million.

Marcus Shane Sweetin, 46, was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Sweetin operated Sweetin Farms LLC, which farmed two parcels of land in Arkansas County and Prairie County. In April 2013, Sweetin applied for a loan from AgHeritage Farm Credit Services that sought to recoup money his company allegedly spent acquiring a Case 290 Magnum tractor. The tractor itself was to serve as collateral, and in support of the loan, Sweetin gave AgHeritage an invoice from an equipment dealer reflecting the tractor had been purchased outright and a copy of the company check that had supposedly been used to pay.

The tractor had not been purchased outright but had actually been financed through another lender. The real tractor bore a different serial number, and the check and invoice Sweetin provided in support of the loan were both fabricated.

During his plea hearing, Sweetin acknowledged this was only one of several instances where he lied to lenders in order to secure loans for his farming operation. At various points, he sought purchase money for farming equipment financed elsewhere using fictitious serial numbers and invoices, he overstated farmable acreage and understated debt to secure crop loans, and he double pledged collateral. All told, these false statements secured loans that occasioned over $3.3 million in losses to AgHeritage, BancorpSouth, and Regions Bank.

Sweetin pleaded guilty in May to an Information charging him with one count of making a false statement on a loan application. He was sentenced by United States District Judge James M. Moody. In addition to prison, Sweetin was sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay over $3.2 million in restitution, the number having been lowered from $3.3 million to account for recent payments to victims since his guilty plea.

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alexander D. Morgan.

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