Eau Claire man faces prison for fraud cases using Wisconsin courtsAn Eau Claire, Wis., man is facing 1,000 years in prison after admitting to using the Wisconsin court system to commit fraud.
MADISON, Wis. — An Eau Claire, Wis., man is facing 1,000 years in prison after admitting to using the Wisconsin court system to commit fraud.
John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced Bernard C. Seidling, 61, Eau Claire was found guilty Dec. 26 of 50 counts of mail fraud by Judge Barbara B. Crabb.
Between 2003 and 2009, Seidling engaged in a fraud scheme in which he used the Wisconsin small claims court system to obtain small claims judgments against individuals and corporations based on false representations in lawsuits he filed.
The defendant and the United States agreed the criminal charges could be resolved without a jury trial. The parties stipulated to facts and disputed only the law that applies to those facts.
The defendant acknowledged he deceived small claims courts, clerks of court, and process servers, but he maintained he did not deceive the actual victims of his scheme to defraud, and therefore could not be found guilty.
Seidling filed suits in Wisconsin small claims courts against individuals and corporations in which he lied about their addresses and attempts to serve them. He submitted false documents to convince the small claims courts that he had process servers attempt to serve the defendants when, in fact, those attempts either had not been made, or, as Seidling knew, would be unsuccessful because he knew the defendants did not live at the addresses he had provided.
In each of these lawsuits Seidling usually claimed the maximum allowed of $5,000 as of the time in the indictment. He hid filings of the lawsuits from the victims of his scheme (the defendants in the lawsuits), and then obtained default judgments. Once he obtained these fraudulent default judgments, he filed them in the county where the victims actually lived or owned property, and also used them to attempt to file wage garnishments against the victims and the victims' property.
The Court accepted the government’s arguments, and found Seidling guilty of all 50 fraud charges.
I find from the undisputed facts that defendant violated the statute by devising and carrying out a scheme to defraud individuals; defendant’s scheme involved material misrepresentations made to the small claims courts as part of the scheme to defraud the persons named in the actions defendant brought in those courts; he used the mails and caused the use of the mails to carry out his scheme to defraud; and he participated in the scheme with the intent to obtain money or other property wrongfully from the persons against whom he filed the false claims by making them believe that they were liable to him or his alter ego companies,” Crabb wrote in a 25-page opinion on the case.
Crabb scheduled sentencing for 1 p.m. March 21. Seidling faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the 50 charges.
Vaudreuil stated that this successful prosecution is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Sheriff’s Departments of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Dane, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Iron, Jackson, Pierce, Polk, Sawyer, and Washburn Counties; and Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation.
The U.S. attorney prosecuted the case himself.