Former owner of River House faces federal charges - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Former River House owner charged in $10 million fraud

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Todd Van Natta. Source: Henderson Detention Center Todd Van Natta. Source: Henderson Detention Center

The former owner of some prime downtown property has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Todd Van Natta is charged with 10 counts of bank fraud and three counts of wire fraud, all related to an alleged scheme to defraud Indiana banks of more than $10 million.

As we reported a few weeks ago, the property has turned over a new leaf. There's a new owner with big plans for the River House hotel.

However, back in 2009. some say the conditions were a lot different and many of the tenants never moved back in.

"It was complete chaos."

That's how Tony Clutter describes moving day back in 2009, when he helped two of his friends gather all of their things and leave their home at the River House hotel.

"It was old, it was outdated, there were a lot of people jammed up," recalls Clutter.

Clutter says he suspected bad ownership was the reason the hotel was in such bad shape, but now, the US Attorney's Office says that owner Todd Van Natta purchased the hotel with a $3 million to $8 million fraudulent loan.

"Clearly, Mr. Van Natta's activities have defrauded the people of Evansville that had any kind of ownership or interest in the River House hotel," said US Attorney Joseph Hogsett.

Hogsett says Van Natta allegedly spent more than two years securing large sums of money from banks using fake information.

"Tax returns, financial statements, bank accounts, monthly statements, all of which were designed to convince the banks."

Loans, Hogsett says, to be used for properties in Evansville, Ft. Wayne and Seymour, and even more credit for an airplane and a yacht.

Clutter believes if Van Natta is guilty, he should have ran his business honestly in the first place.

"Sometimes you reap what you sow, and that's all there is to it."

Hogsett says they have good reason to believe that if Van Natta is convicted, much of the money could be recovered.

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