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

February 9, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

American Express Employees Among Victims

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Michael Dudley Leppert, age 39, formerly of 5642 Chetwynd Road, Arbutus, Baltimore County, Maryland, has been sentenced in Anne Arundel County on his Felony Theft conviction, arising out of his continuing 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 February 9, 2001, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Joseph P. Manck accepted Michael Leppert’s guilty plea to felony theft. Judge Joseph P. Manck imposed the sentence requested by the State, sentencing Leppert to a 15- year period of incarceration, suspending all but 10 years, followed by a five-year period of probation supervised by the State Division of Parole and Probation. Leppert is ordered to pay $22,912 to the victims as a condition of probation.

According to the statement of facts, throughout Anne Arundel County, but especially at the American Express offices in Linthicum, between January 18, 1998, until his arrest on July 13, 1999, Leppert took money from nine property owners, 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. Some of the property owners victimized by Leppert trusted him because they had legitimate mortgage financing transactions with Leppert in the past. Once Leppert gained the confidence of a childhood acquaintance working at American Express and offered to refinance his home, this victim unwittingly spread the news of Leppert’s attractive refinancing offer to his colleagues, seven of whom were victimized by Leppert.

On January 26, 2001, Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Julia Beth Weatherly sentenced Leppert to 10 years incarceration for felony theft in Prince George’s County, where Leppert committed similar scams. Both cases were handled by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Office of the Attorney General.