Judge sentences Dynus Corp. owner to 15 years, says he's 'fundamentally dishonest'

CINCINNATI — A federal judge sentenced the businessman at the center of the Dynus Corp. bank fraud case and political scandal to 15 years in prison Wednesday, June 9.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith called former Dynus owner Orlando Carter a “fundamentally dishonest person” motivated by greed.

“It is ironic that Mr. Carter argues that the political figures and financial institutions were victims of their own greed and corruption, as the same is true of him,” Beckwith said.

She said Dynus — which took out an illicit multimillion dollar loan in Butler County’s name with help from a county auditor and others — was a fraud from the start.

The sentence is near the top of the recommended guidelines for such a case. Beckwith said she was influenced by her belief that Carter lied on the stand and threatened the family of former company president Jim Smith, who testified against him, with a lawsuit.

Carter pleaded for mercy, insisting he was in the dark on the deal while apologizing for the way things ended up. He thanked his family for support, apologized to the roughly 60 employees who lost their jobs and to those who invested in him.

“I’m remorseful for where I am today, however I must say that I maintain my innocence,” he said. “I look forward to the opportunity, at some point in the future I’m praying, to be able to get the whole story out.”

Both sided say Dynus case about more than money

Witnesses and observers in former Dynus Corp. owner Orlando Carter’s sentencing in federal court Wednesday, June 9, said there was more at stake in the trial than one man and his family.

More even than the excess of $10 million lost by two banks, the political turmoil in Butler County unleashed by testimony that former county auditor Kay Rogers and others helped Carter secure $6 million in illicit loans in the county’s name, or the jobs lost by 60 employees of the fiber optics firm when the company folded in 2005.

In sentencing Carter to 15 years in prison and to pay $4.8 million in restitution, U.S. Judge Sandra Beckwith said Wednesday that she was moved by the testimony of a prominent black Cincinnati businessman.

That was Ross Love, who lost more than $2.5 million in investments and lines of credit; and who said Carter undermined the entire local black business community and the trust banks have in them.

“I have to characterize him as an individual who is frankly very self-centered,” Love said. “He cares about himself, and is willing to do things that hurt other people, and hurt them badly.”

In addition to costing him money, Love said Carter diminished Love’s ability to invest in other local businesses and donate to charity. He said it impacted the trust financial institutions have in the black business community.

This was a sentiment echoed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Barry.

“The defendant has demonstrated that he is the most dangerous type of monster because he is a person who came into … this city and took advantage of the African-American business leadership,” she said.

Those pleading for mercy in the case included Carter’s fiancée, pastor, and other members of the religious community. Some worried the trial itself was an injustice against the black community.

Carter’s friends and family said he showed “character” throughout the trial, and talked of his devotion to his family, including his two children.

“My plea to you and to the court today … is to have mercy upon Orlando Carter because there is a greater consequence, and that consequence is on his children,” said the Rev. Eric White, Carter’s pastor.

Those watching included members of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater Cincinnati, which expressed concerns about the fairness of the trial, and an under-representation of blacks on the jury.

“It seems like a lot of information was left out of the trial,” said Dock Foster Sr., president of the conference. He said it was never proven to him that Carter was personally involved in the illegal deals.

“It just didn’t seem fair,” agreed Aaron Greenlea, the organization’s past president.

Carter was found guilty in August 2009 on 11 felony charges for his part in a scheme that included taking out a $6.5 million loan from National City Bank in Butler County’s name for a deal that didn’t exist, then using that deal to justify a line of credit from Fifth Third Bank.

He also had company employees make a fake W-2 to inflate his income so he could buy a $1.2 million Maineville mansion, and lied during bankruptcy proceedings, the jury found.

Carter denied any personal involvement in the illicit loan, and said he thought everything was above-board.

Beckwith brushed aside Wednesday a last-minute motion by Carter’s defense attorneys to continue the sentencing to allow time to better nail down the damages.

“Eventually, a day of reckoning has to come,” she said.

Carter was granted a couple weeks to say his goodbyes and turn himself over to prison officials. His defense attorneys immediately filed a motion to let him out on bond while his appeal proceeds.

Beckwith also ordered Carter to pay part of roughly $4.1 million in restitution to Fifth Third Bank and more than $800,000 to the mortgage company that gave him a loan for his $1.2 million house.

He also was ordered to pay $1,100 in assessments to the court, but Beckwith waived any fine, saying it’s unlikely he’ll even be able to pay the restitution.

Carter was the only one charged in the scandal to fight the charges. Rogers, former company President Jim Smith and former employee Karin Verbruggen all pleaded guilty.

Verbruggen, the only other one sentenced so far, also was ordered to repay Fifth Third nearly $4.1 million, jointly with Carter and Smith.

Contact this reporter at (513) 820-2175 or jsweigart@coxohio.com.