Anchorage Construction Firm Owner Pleads Guilty To Fraud

An Anchorage commercial property builder pleaded guilty today in U.S. District court to 12 counts of making false statements to a credit union for more than $4 million in construction loan draws. Lee E. Baker, Jr. was the owner of Discovery Construction, Inc.

In 2004 Baker was approved for a $9 million loan to purchase property on Northern Lights and construct an 85 unit apartment building called Bryn Mawr. Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta Randall says between September 2005 and January 2007, Baker submitted one page construction loan draws itemizing work that he said had been completed.

“Well what Mr. Baker did on 12 different draws for over $4 million was falsify the amount of work that he claims to have completed and got the money but did not use the money to complete the Bryn Mawr project because it never did get completed,” Randall said.

Randall says the documents Baker submitted are supposed to outline the progress of the construction.

“And you list different amounts that you claim you have spent and what was completed and you certified that it is a truthful statement, so that statement is what makes the financial institution go ahead and disburse funds from the loan that has been approved,” Randall said.

Randall says the loan was defaulted on and the Bryn Mawr property was sold. Baker will be sentenced by Judge Ralph Beistline on December 4th. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori