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A judge sentenced a former Utah County real estate dealmaker and mother of five to seven years in a federal prison for her role in leading a real estate scam that left banks and others with $11.7 million in losses.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby sentenced Portia Louder, 43, to the maximum possible sentence under an agreement in which she pleaded guilty to two charges.
Shelby said he was imposing the most severe sentence under the plea agreement because Louder was the leader of a sophisticated fraud that took place over an extensive period of time. Others commit robberies out of desperation to feed a drug addiction, while Louder and her husband Chad, who faces a related trial, lived in a nice neighborhood and had good incomes, the judge said.
"The only thing I can deduce about this is the conduct was born out of greed," Shelby said.
Shelby said Louder's actions in obtaining loans above the actual sales price of homes by using inflated appraisals and falsified papers also defrauded the neighbors and others in the community by causing inflated home values.
In the specific case to which she pleaded guilty, Louder in late 2007 negotiated a sales price for an Alpine home of around $725,000 then obtained a loan for $1 million, making $230,179 out of the deal.
Louder told Shelby she had made "really bad decisions" and "there's not really any excuse for it." She pointed to an addiction to painkillers and said, "I wish I'd gotten help sooner."
"I guess I'm asking for your mercy," Louder said.
Her attorney, Julie George, said Louder didn't keep the proceeds of her crimes but poured them time and again into new deals in manic attempts to work her way out of the mess.
That prompted the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stewart Walz, to say that description fits many white collar criminals who keep taking other people's money as they try to make their schemes work.
"They need to be disabused of that particular thought process," Walz said.
While the normal sentencing guideline for Louder would be about 10 to 15 years, Walz said prosecutors agreed to a range for her of zero to seven years because she had provided important cooperation in drug investigations.
Shelby noted that while the charges Louder faced were related to only 10 transactions where losses were $11.7 million, she participated in 50 to 80 total deals valued as high as $80 million.
Shelby did allow Louder to surrender to federal prison officials in April after George had said jailing her immediately would halt the mental health and drug treatments she was undergoing.
A crowd of family members, including Louder's children, friends and fellow substance abuse treatment participants, were in the courtroom, some of them sobbing quietly at times during the proceedings.