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Jeannette businessman gets 18-month term for wire fraud

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Jeannette businessman will spend 18 months in federal prison for defrauding the Small Business Administration on a $1 million loan and a White Oak investor on a $400,000 loan, a judge ruled on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer sentenced James “Mick” Conde, 65, for his guilty plea to one count of wire fraud.

Conde and Thomas Kemerer operated Precision Powder Coating and Graphics in Jeannette. They told Sky Bank, which provided the SBA-backed loan, and the private investor that they would use the $1.4 million to buy equipment, but they used it for personal and living expenses, prosecutors said.

Conde told the judge that he had “little honor or integrity left” and apologized.

“My remorse knows no bounds,” he said. “I have been law-abiding without even a traffic ticket in 65 years.”

Conde's attorney, Jay Finkelstein, asked Fischer for a non-prison sentence, saying Conde is the lone caregiver for his ailing wife and that he won't be able to pay back the losses if he's in prison.

Fischer said she dipped below sentencing guidelines that called for a range of 33 to 41 months, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun Sweeney had asked for, but she declined to impose anything lighter. The judge said Conde's two daughters will have to “step up to the plate” to care for his wife while he's in prison.

“All this time has passed, and there's been no real effort to repay these loans,” Fischer said.

Conde and Kemerer used bogus documents to secure the loans from Sky Bank and private investor Wayne King.

The scheme ran from 2002 to 2003, according to the indictment. Conde and Kemerer established Precision Powder Coating and Graphics in Jeannette in 2002, and it went out of business in 2005.

Fischer sentenced Kemerer, 65, of Greensburg last month to two years in prison for his plea to wire fraud.

The company was going to powder coat and etch metal parts for vehicles and equipment. Conde served as president, and Kemerer was chief financial officer.

The company defaulted on the Sky Bank loan, which was guaranteed by the SBA, and the company never repaid King.

Fischer also ordered three years of federal supervision upon Conde's release from prison and $1.8 million in restitution.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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