Local Real Estate Developer Indicted on Bank Fraud Charges


ST. LOUIS, MO – August 13, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that John R. Steffen was indicted on fraud charges involving his scheme to defraud The Business Bank of St. Louis by pledging Brownfield Remediation Tax Credits as collateral on a loan, and selling them to use the proceeds for other projects.

According to the indictment, Steffen is in the business of construction of residential and commercial real estate as well as the rehabilitation and development of commercial real estate primarily in the St. Louis area. This work is mainly done through Pyramid Construction, Inc., and MB Lofts, LLC, which are both controlled by Steffen. One of the projects undertaken by Steffen through MB Lofts, LLC is the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the Metropolitan Building at 500 North Grand, for commercial purposes and to construct a hotel. As part of the financing of this renovation project Steffen and MB Lofts, LLC received Brownfield Remediation Tax Credits from the State of Missouri Department of Economic Development. These tax credits provide a State of Missouri financial incentive to cleanup and redevelop commercial and/or industrial sites that are contaminated with hazardous substances, and have been abandoned or underutilized for at least three years. The recipient of these tax credits may assign, sell, or transfer them.  In March 2007, MB Lofts, LLC received authorization to receive up to $1,424,818 in tax credits for the rehabilitation of the Metropolitan Building.

The indictment alleges that in May 2007, Steffen used the tax credits as collateral to obtain a loan from The Business Bank of St. Louis to MB Lofts, LLC in the amount of $1,115,633. The purpose of the loan was for environmental cleanup and remediation of the Metropolitan Building. On December 21, 2007, Steffen fraudulently sold $827,415 of tax credits without the knowledge of The Business Bank, and used the proceeds for other projects.

Steffen, 52, St. Louis, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one felony count of bank fraud. If convicted, bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or fines up to $1,000,000.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Reap and Steve Muchnick are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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