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Montgomery businessman sentenced for fraud, drug conviction

Updated: May. 30, 2019 at 6:29 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - After several years of running a scheme involving a fake car dealership in Montgomery, Gene Earl Easterling was sentenced to more than five years in prison after being convicted on bank fraud, mail fraud and drug charges, announced U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin’s office.

“Using false business practices, Easterling shamelessly enriched himself by taking advantage of the goodwill of credit unions and banks,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez. “Because he also violated the sanctity of the U.S. Mail to further his crimes, Postal Inspectors diligently worked with our law enforcement partners to hold Easterling accountable for his actions.”

According to Franklin’s office, from March 2015 through October 2017, Easterling and others ran a scheme submitting a series of fraudulent loan applications through the United States mail and received payments for those loans. This led to his mail and bank fraud charges.

Easterling told several Montgomery banks and credit unions that he owned a car dealership called “Next-in-Line, Inc.” He and his co-conspirators would submit applications for auto loans to pay for cars from his lot.

However, investigations revealed Easterling never owned a car lot, never actually sold any cars and was never issued an auto-dealer’s license.

According to the Department of Justice, 16 fraudulent checks were approved and resulted in a total loss of $682,980 to the different financial institutions. There were another $253,500 in applications that were not approved.

Easterling was also found to be in possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, which led to his drug charges.

His co-conspirators also have pending cases, according to Franklin’s office.

“When criminals lie to banks for their own personal gain, it hurts everyone. When they are also selling drugs, it is even more alarming,” Franklin said in a news release. “My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the community from this type of criminal activity.”

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