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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Mark H. Brenner, 51, of Oshkosh, was sentenced today to 24 months initial confinement and three years of extended supervision for securities fraud and selling an unregistered security. Brenner appeared in court this morning before the Honorable Barbara Hart Key, Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge.
Brenner previously entered pleas of "guilty" to these three felonies on May 18, 2009, pursuant to a plea agreement with the State. The plea agreement also provided that the court at sentencing was entitled to consider additional dismissed and uncharged securities crimes, together with uncharged crimes arising from Brenner's alleged unauthorized use of a credit card.
Judge Key sentenced Brenner to 24 months initial confinement and three years of extended supervision. Judge Key stayed those sentences and placed Mr. Brenner on probation for six years. As part of his probation Mr. Brenner received 12 months of county jail time. Of those 12 months he will not be eligible for GPS release until after five months in the county jail. In addition, Mr. Brenner has to make full restitution. Currently, he has $31,559.26 in restitution payments remaining. As conditions of his probation, the court also ordered Mr. Brenner to maintain employment, establish a monthly payment plan for the outstanding restitution, participate in any counseling his probation agent thinks is appropriate and is prohibited from being a financial manager.
According to the criminal complaint, Brenner falsely represented to an elderly husband and wife that he needed operating capital for his real estate business. He explained that his business involved purchasing distressed properties, refurbishing them, and then reselling the properties for a profit. He further represented that his business was established and "going," enabling him to pay big interest and that he was working with a loan officer who fed him information when the loan officer's bank was getting ready to foreclose on a property. Relying on these and other representations, the elderly victims invested a total of $97,000 in a series of transactions between November 2001 and November 2002. After payments slowed down, Brenner entered into another agreement with the victims in December 2004 to repay the obligation. All payments stopped in April 2005.
The investigation revealed that Brenner and his business, Valley Home Buyers, never purchased a single property and that Brenner used these investment funds to pay his living expenses and interest payments. Additionally, the complaint continues, from 1990 to 1994, Brenner was sued numerous times, resulting in money judgments against him and one foreclosure. Brenner never informed the elderly victims of any of these facts.
The uncharged securities crimes concerned similar transactions between 1998 and 2003 with another elderly couple and that husband's elderly aunt. These transactions totaled another $40,000. In 2006, Brenner used that wife's credit card to make unauthorized charges exceeding $2,000.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Paul L. Barnett as special prosecutor for Winnebago County and was investigated by the Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation.