- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

PEWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin man described as a one-time king of foreclosures and his adult son pleaded not guilty to federal bankruptcy and bank fraud charges and were ordered released on bond Monday, hours after heavily armed agents broke down the door of a Pewaukee home and arrested the pair.

The U.S. marshals, assisted by the FBI, Waukesha County sheriff’s deputies and Pewaukee police, took Todd Brunner, 57, and his 24-year-old son, Shawn, into custody at the home during an early morning raid.

The two have been indicted on bankruptcy and fraud charges. Prosecutors say they hid assets from bankruptcy court and that the elder Brunner tied to hide more than $7 million in assets from lenders. A warrant was issued Friday after they failed to appear in court.

Authorities said Todd Brunner created several shell companies in his son’s name and transferred ownership of properties and other assets to those entities.

At the arraignment Monday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph ordered that Todd Brunner post a $2,000 cash bail within two weeks, while his son was released on a signature bond. In all, Todd Brunner was charged with 11 counts of bank fraud and four counts of bankruptcy fraud. Shawn Brunner was charged with three counts of bank fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud.

Anderson Ganser, a public defender representing Todd Brunner, asked that the senior Brunner also be released on his own signature. Todd Brunner is in “extremely poor health,” Ganser said of his client, who has weighed as much as 400 pounds and was brought to his arraignment in a wheelchair.

Ganser said Brunner is not a flight risk and has been bedridden for the past week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Kraft asked that Todd Brunner be required to post a cash bond, noting that marshals found “a substantial amount of cash in the safe at his home.” They also found some long guns and a pistol, which Joseph told Brunner he was not permitted to possess while under indictment.

Two marshals testified Friday that they had repeatedly tried to serve the Brunners with a summons and the indictment last week but nobody answered the door. Lights were on in the home and vehicles were parked in the driveway when the marshals knocked on the door, they testified.

The Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1t3XXKC ) profiled the collapse of Brunner’s financial empire in 2011, which was built largely by buying hundreds of foreclosed homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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