A federal jury convicted a Westport man on Tuesday of conspiring to commit mortgage fraud and committing wire fraud in obtaining a $50,000 loan to complete a house in Westport.
The 12-member jury in New Haven, however, acquitted William A. Trudeau Jr., 49, former owner of the Newtown Oil Co., on seven charges involving mail, wire and bank fraud following deliberations over three days.
The verdict left a question as to just how far the jury determined Trudeau's involvement extends in the charged six-year long $3.5 million mortgage fraud conspiracy. That's going to be a question for U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall during Trudeau's Jan. 2 sentencing.
The two charges for which he was convicted each carries a maximum 20-year prison term.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Christopher Schmeisser are expected to maintain that the conspiracy conviction covers all eight mortgages on Westport properties and one on Weston.
They claim that Trudeau, a property developer, was an unnamed principal because of his prior criminal record in both Aspetuck Building & Development and Huntington South Associaties, LLC. Federal investigators say Huntington South was a shell company through which money filtered.
However, the jury's acquittal of Trudeau on three counts of mail fraud and two counts each of bank and wire fraud involving the other loans creates a valid argument for his lawyers, James Filan and Ross Garber, in seeking a less severe sentence.
"Our interpretation of the jury's verdict, and the only logical interpretation, is that the jury found him guilty of conspiring to obtain only the $50,000 loan for which he was convicted of wire fraud. He has since paid back that loan," Filan said.
He said the jury acquitted Trudeau of the other seven underlying charges and that the money involved in those loans should not be considered as part of his involvement in the conspiracy.
"Convincing the jury to return not guilty verdicts on seven of the nine charges is a big victory," said Filan.
The $50,000 bank loan for which Trudeau was convicted was supposed to be used to complete construction of a home at 9 Fragrant Pines in Westport. The prosecution claimed Trudeau instead used the money to pay legal fees and rent a summer home in Nantucket.
In the past, Trudeau was found guilty of nine state larceny charges after his now-defunct Newtown Oil company failed to deliver on $260,000 in prepaid fuel contracts to customers. He avoided prison by making some restitution. A short time later, he was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 22 months in federal prison for not paying $232,000 in employment taxes for his oil and auto repair business workers between 1993-97. He was ordered to pay more than $450,000 restitution.
Trudeau cooperated with the FBI in bribing his former lawyer, Daniel Brennan, who at the time was serving as a Connecticut Superior Court judge, for help with the federal tax case. Brennan pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI and received a term of probation after resigning his post.