COVINGTON, Ky. – A Northern Kentucky homebuilder will spend nine months in prison after pleading guilty to one of the same crimes that put his former boss, Bill Erpenbeck, behind bars in one of the Tri-State’s most notorious fraud cases.
But one of Michael "Mick" Kennedy’s many victims – a subcontractor - defends him and says Kennedy is not like Erpenbeck at all.
Erpenbeck lived a lavish lifestyle from his fraud scheme – he funneled proceeds from home closings back to his company and himself – and left hundreds of homebuyers holding the bag for millions in unpaid construction mortgages. Some had to foreclose on their new homes. Subcontractors and banks were even bigger losers.
Erpenbeck, who had been considered an upstanding member of the community, was sentenced to 30 years in 2004, although a judge later cut five years off his sentence.
But when Kennedy pleaded guilty this week, it wasn’t for his own financial gain, one of his unpaid subcontractors said.
Instead of raging against Kennedy, Gordon Loomis, owner of Loomis Interior Carpentry, stood by him.
"Mick Kennedy built the best home," Loomis told WCPO Wednesday. "For whatever it's worth - I know Mick pretty well - he's an honest guy … not a crook."
Court records show Kennedy failed to pay more than $357,000 to about 30 subcontractors. Kennedy owes Loomis $2,485, according to the list.
Kennedy knowingly lied on affidavits, saying he paid contractors when he didn't and misused money from clients and banks to pay for other projects and himself, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud.
Loomis, though, said Kennedy explained to him what happened.
"There was a large job in Cincinnati that got kind of bogged down. The cash flow wasn't coming from it to help pay other bills,” Loomis said. “Then I know a bank cut off a line of equity, and those two things put him in a situation where he could not pay."
Loomis said he lost about $20,000 in the Erpenbeck scandal, but he knows other subcontractors who lost a lot more.
"There were some guys who lost $300,000," Loomis said.
"That was a different situation,” Loomis said of the Erpenbeck fraud. “There was criminality, serious stuff going on there … It was never like that with Mick.
"He had no criminal intent. His intent was to pay everybody."
Kennedy was ordered to pay restitution to subcontractors.