Robb “TaLLLLL” University -- frontman for the Los Angeles-based hard rock act Lights Over Paris -- has been sentenced to seven years in prison for loan fraud.
The 30-year old singer (who was born Robert Mawhinney) applied for over $11 million in loans ($6.2 million of which he received) in order to fund his elaborate music career. To back up his claims, he provided falsified documents saying he had nearly $8 million in funds. In reality, Lights Over Paris' album "Turn Off The Lights" had peaked at a modest No. 33 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart and Mawhinney had less than $10,000 in the bank.
Watch the music video for Lights Over Paris' "Turn Off The Lights":
$750,000 of the loans went towards a lavish tour bus, with the band's name written on the side -- a curious move for a young band that wasn't exactly a household name. According to authorities, Mawhinney also helped two associates obtain over $1.7 million in loans for their own pursuits in the music business.
The singer was charged in January for his series of fraudulent loans from Comerica Inc. (beginning in August 2009), backed by phony statements claiming he had nearly $8 million in the bank. On April 22, he pleaded guilty to four counts of making false statements to federally insured banks and one count of money laundering.
But it didn't end there. Just one day later, he filed more false statements in another attempt to gain credit, which led to his bond being revoked by a U.S. District Judge.
Their singer may be locked away for the next seven years, but that doesn't mean Lights Over Paris are gone for good. Mawhinney's defense attorneys claimed the band recently signed to a Japanse label called Avex and aren't calling it quits just yet. According to a memorandum from the defense:
"Upon his release from prison, if there is still an opportunity to perform on this contract, Mr. Mawhinney intends to complete the album for Avex and use the monies he obtains from his contract and other employment towards satisfying an expected restitution order."
So, Lights Over Paris diehards -- stay tuned.