SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Ozark, Mo., business owner was sentenced in federal court today for a $6.7 million bank fraud scheme, money laundering and failure to pay taxes.
James E. Ledbetter, 67, of Ozark, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to five years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Ledbetter to pay $4,666,888 in restitution to Bancorp South and $1,567,447 in restitution to the IRS.
Ledbetter was the president and executive officer of Ledbetter, Toth & Associates, Inc., as well as Ledbetter, Corner & Associates, Inc., and Ledbetter & Associates, Inc., which were engineering firms based in Springfield that provided engineering and architectural services to municipalities, electrical cooperatives and other entities.
On March 8, 2012, Ledbetter pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and failure to pay taxes.
Ledbetter entered into a factoring agreement with The Bank on October 11, 2001. (The Bank merged with Signature Bank on or about July 30, 2004, and became known as The Signature Bank. The Signature Bank was purchased by Bancorp South on or about July 1, 2007, and became part of Bancorp South.) This agreement allowed Ledbetter to sell account receivables from his engineering firm to The Bank for operating cash. In essence, Ledbetter sold The Bank the right to collect on the contracts he entered into with various municipalities, electrical cooperatives, and other customers, for a percentage of the total invoice amount (usually 80 percent). This gave Ledbetter immediate operating cash. The Bank then collected payment from Ledbetter’s customers for the full invoice amount.