Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Law & Order

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Law & Order

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS > Mortgage executive admits fraud * Mark Avalos, who had been controller for The Mortgage Store, Inc., has pleaded guilty in federal court here of bank fraud in a case related to illicit practices to try to keep the failing enterprise in business, prosecutors said Thursday.

Sentencing for Avalos, 49, of St. Peters, is set for March 16. Officials said Avalos could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $1 million, although he would be expected to receive much less, based on sentencing guidelines and his cooperation with investigators.

Officials said TMS, a mortgage broker with main offices in Maryland Heights and Wentzville, employed hundreds of people in four states. It began operating at a deficit in 2008, court documents say, so Avalos and others "floated" insufficient-funds checks between accounts for TMS and another company to conceal the true balances. TMS had a negative balance of about $850,000 in mid-2008, officials said, when the banks stopped accepting the checks and TMS went out of business.

TMS owners Jason Rauschelbach and John York pleaded guilty to related charges earlier this year, officials said. Rauschelbach was sentenced to 24 months; York is to be sentenced Feb. 2.

ST. LOUIS > Thieves hit parked cars * Police said thieves broke into parked cars Wednesday night or Thursday morning outside Club Fitness at the Hampton Village Shopping Center on Chippewa Avenue, and at two locations in south St. Louis County: Club Fitness on Lemay Ferry Road and another gym in the Concord Village area.

Windows were smashed while vehicle owners were in the clubs working out, officials said. The first reports came in between 4 and 5 a.m. About a half-dozen cars were damaged in the city and similar totals at the county locations.

ST. LOUIS > Fourth arrest made in hammer slaying * St. Louis police arrested a fourth suspect Thursday in the slaying of Zemir Begic, a Bosnian immigrant who was beaten to death in a hammer attack. The suspect arrested today is a 16-year-old African- American boy, police spokesman Schron Jackson said.

The teenager was arrested at Gateway High School, 5101 McRee Avenue, a police source said. Begic, 32, was beaten to death with at least two hammers near Gravois Avenue and Itaska Street about 1:15 a.m. Nov. 30.

One suspect, Robert Joseph Mitchell, 17, who lives on Winnebago Street, has been was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. It remains unclear whether two other suspects, juveniles 15 and 16, will be charged as adults.

EAST St. LOUIS > Man admits to child porn charges * A 34-year- old man from Alhambra pleaded guilty Thursday to three child pornography offenses.

During a search of Robert E. Godsey's home in July, federal agents found a computer that contained images and videos of minors engaged in sex acts, prosecutors said. …

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