Alabama homebuilder to spend 3 years in prison after admitting he stole more than $1M

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2019

An Alabama homebuilder is headed to prison for more than three years after admitting he defrauded customers of more than $1 million.

A federal judge Tuesday sentenced Jeffrey Rusert, 52, of Jefferson County, Alabama, for engaging in a wire fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.

U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre sentenced Rusert to 41 months in prison for embezzlement of over $1.3 million from his customers. Rusert pleaded guilty in June.

“Rusert abused the responsibility entrusted to him by those wanting the American dream of owning their own home, but now he will pay the price for stealing $1.3 million,” Town said. “He chose to feed his own greed and lifestyle. He will now feed on federal prison food for the next 41 months.”

“Rusert’s desire to have more than he honestly worked for drove him to steal the hard earned money of others.” Sharp said. “Today, this sentence ensures that he pays the price for his greed.”

According to the Information, Rusert was the owner and President of Southern Craftsman Custom Homes, Inc. Southern Craftsman was engaged in the business of residential homebuilding.

Between 2016 and 2018, Rusert engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from at least sixteen known individuals and/or families.

Rusert solicited individuals and families to sign a contract and pay money to Southern Craftsman for the construction of a custom home.

Rusert accepted the checks and down payments from numerous individuals and families and fraudulently used the proceeds on unrelated construction projects, outstanding debt and personal expenses.

In addition to obtaining personal checks from the victims, Rusert assisted individuals and families with obtaining a loan to finance the construction of their custom home.

After obtaining financing, Rusert, submitted false and fraudulent invoices and documentation to financial institutions for the purpose of obtaining checks or draws from the construction loans purportedly to pay for materials, labor and expenses associated with a particular home under construction.

Rusert failed to use and apply the money obtained from the financial institutions towards the construction of the customer’s home project.

In addition to the term of imprisonment imposed, Rusert was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

The FBI investigated the case with assistance from the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark is prosecuted.