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Glen Arm home builder arrested in $14M investment fraud

A Glen Arm home builder was indicted Thursday in connection with a $14 million investment fraud, prosecutors said.

A federal grand jury indicted Patrick J. Belzner, 42, for conspiring to commit wire fraud that sprang from an investment fraud scheme, Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

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The indictment was unsealed Thursday upon Belzner's arrest.

Belzner, as well as a co-conspirator, told investors that in order for his business to obtain loans for commercial real estate projects, he needed an escrow account with "large sums of money" that showed the construction business had "liquidity," according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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Investors, assured by an agreement that said no one could touch their funds without their authorization, gave Belzner money to put into the account, the statement said.

For at least two years, from August 2009 to August 2011, Belzner — who occasionally used the pseudonym Patrick McCloskey — and his colleague withdrew millions from the escrow account and used it to pay off personal and business debts, according to federal prosecutors.

Belzner and his co-conspirator hid their fraud by sending out fake bank statements and paid money owed to early investors with funds invested later on, according to the statement.

If convicted, Belzner could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. His initial court appearance took place Thursday in Baltimore.

Belzner pleaded guilty in 1999 in Howard County Circuit Court to conspiring to embezzle more than $250,000 from a food distributor based in Columbia.

He could not be reached by phone Thursday evening.

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