On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, Acting United States Attorney Tom Larson announced that the owner of several Springfield, Missouri area restaurants was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole. 70-year-old Bruce Swisshelm of Battlefield, Missouri was sentenced for his involvement in a $5.5 million bank fraud scheme. The court has ordered the defendant to pay more than $5.5 million in restitution.
Swisshelm owns several area businesses, including Swisshelm Properties Inc. and Horned Frog Deli Inc. These corporations owned and developed commercial properties in Springfield and elsewhere. Swisshelm owned and operated Burger King restaurants, San Francisco Oven restaurants, McAlister’s Deli restaurants, a Fog City Coffee restaurant, and more.
In July of 2015, Swisshelm pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering. He was initially sentenced to a single year and a day in prison. The government appealed the decision and the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals later found that the defendant had violated the terms of his plea agreement. They subsequently ordered him to be re-sentenced.
The defendant admitted that he had submitted false financial documents to the Great Southern Bank to receive four commercial loans. Those loans totaled $5,592,583. The false information was used to approve the commercial loans for Swisshelm. Court documents proved that Swisshelm knew his businesses had been losing money for several years. He knew they were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Swisshelm had gambled away the little money he had left. His original bank, Arvest Bank, denied several requests for extensions on his existing loans as well as requests for additional financing. To avoid declaring bankruptcy and selling off assets, Swisshelm carried out a multi-million-dollar fraud against Great Southern Bank.
Great Southern Bank received false income information from Swisshelm. After receiving the loan money, Swisshelm failed to make any payment towards the loan. Instead, he attempted to get the loan excused by a bankruptcy court. The defendant will now serve five years in prison for his crimes.