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Michigander Seth Murdock Pleads Not Guilty in Stolen Bus Caper

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Michigander Seth Murdock Pleads Not Guilty in Stolen Bus Caper

U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Vermont
October 12, 2011

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Seth Murdock, 54, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded not guilty yesterday in United States District Court in Burlington to wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered that Murdock be held without bail pending trial. Murdock has been in custody since his arrest by FBI agents on September 15 in Michigan.

On September 8, 2011, a federal grand jury in Burlington returned a two-count indictment against Murdock. According to the indictment, Murdock owns a bus company in Michigan named Murdock Tours and Travel. In June 2010, Murdock agreed to purchase two motor coaches for $300,000 each that were being sold by Lamoille Valley Transportation of Morrisville, Vermont. To finance the purchase, Murdock applied for a $1,050,000 loan from Strada Capital of California. The indictment charges that Murdock provided Strada with false and fraudulent financial information about his company, including bogus tax returns, altered bank statements and falsified financial statements. Murdock convinced the owner of Lamoille Valley Transportation to turn custody of the busses over to Murdock before the loan closed, assuring the owner the funds would become available in one or two days. When Strada learned the financial information pertaining to Murdock Tours and Travel was fraudulent, it rejected the loan application. In the meantime, Murdock drove the coaches from Vermont to Michigan and began using them in his business.

According to the indictment, Murdock then sought a $670,000 loan from a second lender in Florida. Murdock assertedly also submitted fraudulent financial information to that company and did not obtain a loan. Eventually, law enforcement authorities in Michigan seized the coaches and returned them to Lamoille Valley Transportation. They had been driven thousands of miles and suffered damage for which the company was not reimbursed.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

If convicted, Murdock faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.

This case was investigated by the Burlington Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Murdock was represented at yesterday’s arraignment by John Pacht. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.

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