3 accused of misusing $44M of customers' money

June 24, 2011 - 2:55 AM

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Three Oregon businessmen have been indicted on federal fraud conspiracy charges, accused of misusing more than $44 million of their customers' money.

Federal prosecutors allege Mark Neuman and Lane Lyons, both of Bend, and Timothy Larkin of Redmond, secretly used the money from their company, Summit Accommodators, for more than 100 real estate deals.

They were principals of the now defunct company, which held the proceeds from sales of customers' income-producing property while customers purchased similar properties. The arrangement can help customers take advantage of lawful federal income tax deferral rules.

Prosecutors say 91 customers lost nearly $14 million.

The Oregonian reports that the alleged scheme spun out of control when land values began to plunge in 2007.

Larkin's lawyer, Carrie Menikoff, says Larkin and Lyons "did everything in their power to prevent the failure of the company." A lawyer representing Newman declined to comment.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com