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MADISON - Mark H. Brenner, 49, of Oshkosh, was charged today with six felonies in connection with a real estate scheme in which the elderly husband and wife alleged victims invested nearly $100,000, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today. Three of the felonies allege that Brenner engaged in securities fraud by making false representations, and omitting other material information, in soliciting the investments. The other three felonies arise from Brenner's alleged failure to properly register the documents evidencing the transactions with the Department of Financial Institutions, as required by Wisconsin law.
According to the criminal complaint, filed in Winnebago County, a financial advisor referred the elderly victims to Brenner, who explained he needed operating capital for his real estate business. Brenner informed the investors that his business involved purchasing distressed properties, cleaning, repairing and refurbishing them, and then reselling the properties for a profit. Brenner represented that his business was established and "going," enabling him to pay big interest and that he was working with a loan officer who fed him information when the loan officer's bank was getting ready to foreclose on a property.
Relying on these representations, the complaint continues, the elderly victims invested a total of $97,000 in a series of transactions between November 2001 and November 2002. The interest rates for these investments ranged from 10 to 15 percent annually. By November 2004, Brenner owed nearly $105,000, including principal and interest. He entered into another agreement with the victims to repay the obligation. All payments stopped in April 2005.
The complaint further alleges that, in fact, Brenner and his business, Valley Home Buyers, never purchased a single property and that Brenner used these investment funds to pay his living expenses and interest payments. Additionally, the investigation revealed that from 1990 to 1994, Brenner was sued numerous times, resulting in money judgments against him and one foreclosure. The complaint states that Brenner never informed the elderly victims of any of these facts.
Brenner is scheduled to make his initial appearance in Winnebago County Circuit Court on June 4, 2008.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Paul L. Barnett and was investigated by the Department of Justice's Division Criminal Investigation.