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Appraiser for Clarksburg projects convicted in Pa.

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The appraiser hired in May to value property for the latest Charles Pointe tax increment financing (TIF) proposal was under indictment for federal bank fraud at the time.

James E. Lignelli was convicted shortly after, on June 11, of three counts of federal bank fraud in Pennsylvania. He had been under indictment since October of 2011.

Lignelli was selected by the county to appraise three lots at Charles Pointe to be purchased with $7.51 million in sales TIF bonds at Charles Pointe. Lignelli’s appraisals currently serve as the basis for the financial consideration the developers will receive in exchange for the lots.

Lignelli was convicted during a federal trial in the Western District of Pennsylvania. His conviction stemmed from his alleged role in misleading lenders on the value of properties being used as collateral in two separate bank fraud schemes, court documents show.

According to a June 11 release from the office of U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, “the evidence presented at trial established that Lignelli was an appraiser who provided fraudulently elevated ap-praisals in support of fraudulent loan applications in connection with two different mortgage fraud schemes.”

Court documents show that Lignelli was convicted of preparing an appraisal in 2005 for a property located at 320 Sugar Camp Road, McMurray, Pennsylvania, that “contained material misrepresentations” and that “overstated the true fair market value for that property.” That appraisal was part of a bank fraud scheme perpetrated by Michael Pope, Tiffany Sprouts and Marlin Sprouts to defraud Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, documents allege.

In a separate incident dating back to 2005, Lignelli was convicted of providing an appraisal that overstated the value of an office building located at 8150 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh, according to court filings…

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