ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - One of three men accused of bank fraud linked to a now-shuttered downtown Albuquerque construction project pleaded guilty Thursday to two federal crimes.
Derek Barnhill, 46, of Rio Rancho admitted he engaged in bank fraud totaling $474,000 and money laundering of $366,000. He faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $1 million and restitution as ordered by a federal judge.
According to prosecutors and Barnhill's plea agreement, Barnhill and Vincent Garcia jointly owned a development project called Lockhaven Estates, and separately Garcia was building the nine-story Anasazi Downtown, a retail and residential building at Central Avenue and 6th Street SW in Albuquerque.
A federal indictment alleges that in late 2006 and early 2007 Barnhill and Garcia concocted a scheme to submitted false construction invoices to the bank financing the Lockhaven project to pump cash into both the Anasazi project and the Garcia's construction company.
In the plea agreement Barnhill claims that a month later Garcia said he needed $360, 000 as a good-faith payment toward buying a casino. Barnhill said he then altered and resubmitted a previous Anasazi invoice to draw $365,000 from the project's construction loan for Garcia.
In addition the indictments in the case, which also name Garcia's son David Garcia as a defendant, list construction drawdowns from the Copper Square Condominium project as allegedly being base on fraudulent invoices. Some of the money was diverting to building a home for David Garcia, the indictment charges.
The money-laundering charges relate to allegations money was moved through various accounts to conceal its fraudlent sources.
Both Garcia's have denied the accusations, pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.
Construction on the Anasazi project stopped late in 2008, and the building remains an incomplete shell.
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