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Two couples accused of fraud Orange County federal...

March 14, 2003

Two couples accused of fraud

Orange County federal prosecutors over the last month have filed

charges against 13 defendants, including two Newport-Mesa couples,

accused of committing bankruptcy fraud, officials said.

Mark Steven Manderson, 49, and his wife, Leslee Jean Conner

Manderson, 44, of Newport Beach, were charged with concealing

substantial assets and making false statements in connection with

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their bankruptcy case, according to a news release issued by the U.S.

attorney's office on Thursday.

Prosecutors allege that the Mandersons concealed three rental

properties that they owned on the Balboa Peninsula. The total loss to

their creditors amounted to several hundred thousand dollars, the

federal prosecutors said.

Mark Manderson, who is charged with one count of conspiracy and 14

counts of concealment and false statements in bankruptcy, faces up to

75 years in federal prison and a fine of $3.7 million. Leslee

Manderson, charged with one count of conspiracy and seven counts of

concealment and false statements, faces a maximum sentence of 40

years in federal prison and a $2-million fine.

Costa Mesa residents Bennie Leo Birch, 68, and his wife, Susan

Birch, 58, were also indicted in February on charges of making false

statements to conceal several financial accounts and their interest

in a landscape business, known as Birch Landscape Co., officials

said.

The Birches were arraigned on March 3 on two counts each of making

false statements. The case is scheduled to go to trial on April 29.

The Birches face maximum sentences of 10 years in federal prison and

fines of $500,000.

-- Deepa Bharath

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