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Rock band leader lived the high life on fake loans, feds say

January 25, 2013 |  2:08 pm

A West Hollywood rocker was in federal custody Friday after prosecutors charged him with fraudulently representing he lived the high life so he could rake in $6.25 million in bank loans.

Robert Brandon Mawhinney, who turned 30 Friday, could spend his next 30 years in prison if convicted of all charges. Prosecutors said he’s the lead singer of Lights Over Paris and went by the stage name Robb “TaLLLLL” University.

Prosecutors allege that between August 2009 and April 2011, Mawhinney conned Comerica Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Zions Bank and Bank of America out of millions. The biggest victim, Comerica Bank, lost more than $6 million, prosecutors claim.

Mawhinney allegedly told loan officers he was a ghost writer for musicians and needed the money for music equipment. According to the FBI, he presented the bank with documents showing he had more than $8 million in assets and ran a company with $13 million to $15 million in revenue. In reality, he had less than $10,000 to his name, authorities said.

By the summer of 2011, prosecutors claim, Mawhinney’s scam began to unravel. He fell behind on payments and began to offer excuses. He told his Comerica Bank loan officer his grandmother had just died and he was struggling with it. A month later, he claimed he’d been in a car accident.

In December 2011, an FBI agent had Mawhinney’s loan officer positively identify him as part of an investigation.

Mawhinney was arrested at Miami International Airport earlier this month after he returned from a trip to Buenos Aires. He was extradited to Los Angeles and is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 8.

Two of Mawhinney’s associates, Matt and Jason Salazar, have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud for defrauding banks out of $1.7 million, officials said. They face up to five years in prison.

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-- Joseph Serna

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