From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — Federal prosecutors have charged a Jefferson County home builder in connection to a wire fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr.
Jeffrey Rusert, 52, is accused of embezzling over $1.3 million from his customers.
Rusert was the owner and president of Southern Craftsman Custom Homes, Inc. Southern Craftsman was engaged in the business of residential homebuilding. The FBI said between 2016 and 2018, Rusert engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from at least 16 individuals and/or families. The agency said Rusert solicited individuals and families to sign a contract and pay money to Southern Craftsman for the construction of a custom home. After he accepted the checks and down payments, agents said he fraudulently used the proceeds on unrelated construction projects, outstanding debt and personal expenses.
In addition to obtaining personal checks from the victims, prosecutors believe Rusert assisted individuals and families with obtaining a loan to finance the construction of their custom home, then submitted fraudulent documentation to financial institutions for the purpose of obtaining money he did not use towards the construction of the customer’s home project.
“The victims trusted the defendant to help them achieve the American dream of a custom built home and instead he took their money, used it for his own benefit, and left them without a home, while he moved on to other unsuspecting victims,” Town said. “We appreciate the collaborative work of the FBI and the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board.”
The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The FBI investigated the case with assistance from the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark is prosecuting.
An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.