In a Pioneer Press article, reported that a father and son team accused of fraud and money laundering in a $1.3M Ramsey Town Center project has reached a plea deal agreement. Bill Sandison of Forest Lake and his son Ross William Sandison of Grant, plead not guilty to 29 count federal indictment in U.S. District Court. They now face one count of conspiracy relating to bank fraud.
This white-collar crime included a $35 million loan from 20 banks to develop the Town Center. Community National Bank administered the loan and the Sandisons were executives at the bank at the time. However, records show that the Sandisons used the loan for personal use and not for any project from the loan.
Records showed that they spent some of that money for personal use, including meals, entertainment and home landscaping. They may have personally benefited as much as $600,000, according to the indictment.
In 2005, the loan went into default and in the summer of 2007, the Pioneer Press investigated the transaction over financing and non-disclosures related to the development. Sadly, the Town Center land sits mostly vacant and undeveloped. However, the City of Ramsey has purchased nearly 150 acres of the land for $6.75 million and plans to go forward with much of the same mixed-use development that was originally planned.
Because of the plea deal, these criminals could face only six to eighteen months in federal prison compared to over 10 years if they were found guilty of the original charges. White-collar crimes are just as bad as any other crime. The victim in this case is the Ramsey Town Center where small businesses could have been developed and economic growth could have been realized in the area.