Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

Janaury 29, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Four Deputy Sheriffs Among Victims

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Michael Dudley Leppert, 39, formerly of 5642 Chelwynd Road, Arbutus, Maryland, has been sentenced in Prince George's County Circuit Court on his Felony Theft conviction, arising out of his scheme to defraud property owners by promising attractive mortgage refinancing rates and then stealing the money that the property owners gave to him to cover the settlement costs.

On January 26, 2001, Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Julia Beth Weatherly accepted Michael Leppert's guilty plea to felony theft. Judge Weatherly imposed the sentence requested by the State, sentencing Leppert to a 15- year period of incarceration, suspending all but 10 years, followed by a 5-year period of probation supervised by the Division of Parole and Probation. Leppert is ordered to pay $31,850 to the victims as a condition of probation. This case was handled by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

In a statement of facts, the court learned that in Prince George's County, between January 13, 1999, until his arrest on July 13, 1999, Leppert took money from four Prince George's County Deputy Sheriffs and two other individuals, under the pretense that he would arrange to refinance their homes at an attractive rate. His scheme was to claim that he needed money "up front" for settlement costs before they could refinance their property. Many of the property owners victimized by Leppert trusted him because they had legitimate mortgage financing transactions with Leppert in the past. In every instance, Leppert endorsed the property owner's checks and cashed them, never arranging for the promised refinancing.

"Mr. Leppert simply took money for a service he never provided," Attorney General Curran said. "Now he will spend ten years in prison and must re-pay his victims the money he stole."

The Defendant has similar charges pending in Anne Arundel County involving different victims, after being indicted there on October 27, 2000, on nine counts of felony theft.