A North Yorkshire businessman has been jailed after conning three business associates of out of £1.24 million.
Jonathan Guy Brudenell, 42, of Lammas Court in Leeds was sentenced to five years and four months imprisonment at Teesside Crown Court. He was given four years and eight months for fraud and eight months for perjury with the sentences to run consecutively.
Brudenell was pleaded guilty to 11 of charges of fraud and also pleaded guilty to perjury for making a false statement during a bankruptcy petition hearing.
Detective Inspector Ian Wills, of North Yorkshire Police said:
– Detective Inspector Ian Wills, of North Yorkshire Police
"Brudenell blatantly abused the trust of his friends. He was a persistent liar whose deception was compounded by fraudulently altering official documents and lying during legal proceedings in a feeble attempt to delay repayment of the loans and avoid exposure.
"Today's result sends a clear message of how serious the criminal justice system takes cases of this nature and sends a warning to others who seek to defraud.
"It was a complex enquiry and I would like to pay tribute to Detective Constable Melanie Spanton whose thorough and detailed investigation led to Brudenell pleading guilty."
Brudenell, originally from Whitby, was a well-known property developer who led a luxury lifestyle, taking expensive holidays and possessing large houses, cars and a helicopter.
However, by 2008 his lifestyle had become a facade, covering up sprialling debt and unsustainable borrowing. He was declared bankrupt in October 2009.
In an attempt to maintain this facade, Brudenell defrauded three North Yorkshire businessman who had regarded him as a friend.
In November 2008, one victim invested £600,000 in what he believed was a repossessed property deal in York after being reassured he would receive thousands of pounds in interest and his capital back within six months.
The interest payment cheques bounced and Brudenell used the money to repay debts.
In an effort to disguise his actions, Brudenell offered the victim a £200,000 bonus and sent a fake email of a interaction between himself and a supposed financial advisor authorising the transfer of the funds - but the cheque for the bonus also bounced.
Brudenell then asked the victim for another £1.25 million with promises of further repayment. However, within weeks he was declared bankrupt and the victim never heard from him again.
In January 2009, Brudenell persuaded another acquaintance to loan him £400,000 for another deal involving repossessed property, giving assurances that "he had yet to get a deal wrong and had a 100% record for integrity and honesty." But once again the money was used to pay off debts.
As the deadline for repayment approached Brudenell requested further funds, including £100,000 to invest in a gold and diamond mine in Zimbabwe. Again, a false email was sent to the victim adapted from a genuine email from a high street bank authorising a payment of £500,000.
No payment was made and the victim began legal proceedings to enforce the debt. Two further cheques of £150,000 and £350,000 also bounced. The victim never received a penny from Brudenell.
In March 2009, another associate - the third victim - loaned Brudenell £240,000 to invest in a property deal. Brudenell then asked for further funds, again trying to legitimise his requests using fabricated emails.
The victim declined the requests and received just £7,000 in interest. A cheque for the original investment of £240,000 failed to clear as did further supposed payments, prompting the victim to issue a statutory demand.
Brudenell sent fraudulently amended bank statements to both the second and third victim suggesting he had millions of pounds in a bank account, when he was in fact heavily overdrawn.
During bankruptcy proceedings Brudenell swore on oath that he had access to finance under a freezing order and when that was lifted, he could repay all loans. The judge ordered him to make arrangements for immediate payment upon the order being lifted.
However, there were no funds available and another cheque for £530,000 sent to the second victim failed to clear.
In total, the victims lost £600,000, £400,000 and £240,000 respectively.
In 2010, North Yorkshire Police launched an investigation into Brudenell's financial and business activities after being notified of his bankruptcy and informed by Cleveland Police, who had been alerted by one of his victims.
The investigation came to a head when Brudenell pleaded guilty to fraud at York Crown Court in November 2012.