“Fake it till you make it” is usually sage advice for those looking for success in the music industry, though one faker/potential maker took that advice to crazy extremes recently. If you’ve never heard of US outfit Lights Over Paris, you’re not alone, though thanks to the illegal activities of their frontman the band is now international news.
US Federal prosecutors claimed that Rob Mawhinney, who goes by the ridiculous stage name of Robb ‘TaLLLLL’ University, approached several banks fronting as a big-time musician claiming to be worth around $8 miLLLLLion, despite having less than $10,000 in the bank.
Using false statements to back up his loan applications, Mawhinney claimed he would use the cheeky $11 mil he applied for to spend on equipment and other music business ventures in the hopes of further funding his “successfuLLLLL” music career. The money lenders bought it hook, line and sinker and granted him the cash.
So once he got the dosh, what did he do with it? Did he build his own studio? Finally get those recordings professionaLLLLLy mastered? Well, no. Among the items purchased with the bank’s money were numerous holidays, “entertainment” (we’re guessing coke and strippers) plus a $750,000 touring bus shaped like a plane. Just buy a frickin’ plane, dude. FFS.
So easy to deploy was his ruse that Mawhinney assisted two associates in doing the same, to the tune of $1.7 million. Unfortunately for those involved, this is the real world, not a ’90s gangsta film, so eventually Johnny Law caught on.
Now comes the super crazy part. After pleading guilty to four counts of making false statements to federally insured banks and one count of money laundering and being bailed back on 22nd April, just one day later Mawhinney did EXACTLY THE SAME THING AGAIN IN ANOTHER BANK. Bond revoked, back to jaiLLLLL.
In court Mawhinney was supported by his girlfriend Lauren Phillips (two L’s) who, in an attempt to encourage a lenient sentence, issued the following statement via a letter to the judge, which was obtained by the LA Times:
“For approximately three and a half years Mawhinney obtained and assisted others to obtain substantial loans from multiple banks through fraud. I know that Robb knows what he did was wrong, but what I also know is that a lot of what Robb did came from the passion of wanting to live out his dream, the dream of being a rock star. Starting Lights Over Paris was not a selfish attempt at fame, but rather a way to involve so many people in a shared dream.”
He was sentenced to seven years in a Federal prison. Top work, Lauren.
In an ironic twist that would make the writers of the Aussie classic Two Hands blush, Lights Over Paris ended up scoring a recording contract with a Japanese record label amidst all the drama. However, with Mawhinney currently behind bars, it won’t do them much good until his release.
Even if he’s still on the contract when he gets out, he’s likely to spend a good chunk of the money he earns legitimately, along with whatever else he makes during the rest of his life, paying off an expected restitution order.
The moral of the story? Don’t tell TaLLLLL tales.
(Via Tone Deaf)