Calif singer gets 7-year prison term for bank scam

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The frontman for a fledgling Los Angeles rock band was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday after bilking more than $11 million from banks and using it to fuel his fantasy of being a rock star, prosecutors said.

Robert Mawhinney, 30, pleaded guilty in April to five counts, including money laundering.

Mawhinney was the lead singer for Lights Over Paris, and authorities say he gave the appearance the band was successful. He enlisted rapper The Game for one of his videos and had a customized tour bus emblazoned with the group's name.

He received more than $11 million in loans from four banks. Prosecutors said he gave lenders statements that claimed he had nearly $8 million in assets, but it turned out his account had less than $10,000, authorities said.

Mawhinney "used the millions of dollars that he fraudulently obtained for the selfish purpose of funding his fantasy of being a rock star," prosecutors wrote in court documents.

Loan officers even visited a recording studio in Burbank to determine if Mawhinney, who used the stage name Robb University, was creditworthy. He said he sought the loans to finish a recording room in the studio, among other expenses, court documents show.

Mawhinney appeared to have lived like a rock star, staying in a 35-story luxury high-rise in downtown Los Angeles and taking trips to the Caribbean, Europe and South America.

Prosecutors said he attempted to pay off of some of his loans with proceeds he received from earlier payouts but eventually defaulted.

The band released an EP "Turn Off the Lights," which appeared on Billboard's Heatseeker Albums chart, and also produced a video entitled "I'm Not A Gangsta," in which Mawhinney is riding shotgun in a Rolls Royce driven by The Game.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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