Former Middletown Mall owner gets federal sentence for bankruptcy and tax fraud

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The former owner of the Middletown Mall, was sentenced Thursday to federal prison on bankruptcy fraud and tax fraud charges, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh sentenced Dietrich Fansler, 59 of Morgantown, to 18 months behind bars. Fansler is the managing member of Pin Oak Properties, LLC, which operated Middletown Mall in Fairmont. Fansler pleaded guilty to one count of “Fraudulent Concealment of Bankruptcy Estate Assets” and one count of “Willful Failure to Pay Over Tax” in September 2019.

Fansler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2017. Between June 2017 and January 2018, Fansler collected rent from the tenants of the mall and was required to deposit that money into the debtor-in-possession account of Pin Oak Properties. Fansler admitted to using some of that collected rent, approximately $225,000, for expenses unrelated to Pin Oak Properties and concealing it from the creditors of the bankruptcy estate, according to a news release from Powell’s office.

Former Middletown Mall

Fansler also admitted to failing to pay the withheld income taxes from employees of Pin Oak Properties and another one of his companies, Villa Rentals, Inc. He admits, too, that he did not pay personal income taxes for years 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013. The total loss to the IRS is more than $880,000.

Fansler was ordered to pay $225,000 in restitution to the bankruptcy trustee, as well as $880,446.82 in restitution to the IRS.

As part of the bankruptcy, the property was sold in 2018 and is currently being redeveloped as Middletown Commons, by the new owner.

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