An Orange County man could spend up to seven years in prison after he was convicted of bank fraud to help finance a lifestyle of the rich and famous.
However, Robb “TaLLLLL” University wasn’t rich, and he wasn’t exactly famous.
University had been touring the country with his band, Lights Over Paris, whose album “Turn On The Lights” appeared on the Billboard Heatseeker Albums chart, and rapper The Game contributed a verse on one of their songs and appeared in the group’s music video.
But University, whose real name is Robert Mawhinney, was charged in January with making false statements to obtain millions in loans in order to fund his musical career and a lavish lifestyle.
He pleaded guilty in April to four counts of making false statements to a bank and one count of money laundering and was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison.
Prosecutors said the 30-year-old Mawhinney, of Anaheim, submitted fake statements to obtain more than $11 million in loans.
Investigators said Mawhinney claimed to have millions of dollars in cash savings, but actually had less than $10,000.
The singer used the money for travel, entertainment and a bus tour that cost more than $750,000, prosecutors said.
Mawhinney also helped two friends fraudulently obtain more than $1.7 million for their own music business, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Mawhinney made false statements to another bank the day after his guilty plea in an attempt to get more credit, and a judge revoked his bond.
The singer’s girlfriend told the judge that Mawhinney meant no harm to anyone.
“I know that Robb knows what he did was wrong, but what I also know is that a lot of what Robb did came from the passion of wanting to live out his dream, the dream of being a rock star,” Phillips wrote in a letter to the judge. “Starting Lights Over Paris was not a selfish attempt at fame, but rather a way to involve so many people in a shared dream.”
His attorneys said Mawhinney had signed a recording contract with a Japanese music company shortly before pleading guilty, and they hoped he might be able to use any money he got from that deal to satisfy the court’s restitution order.
[Image via YouTube]