John Wanek of Phoenix Gets Nine-Year Prison Sentence in Ohio Mortgage-Fraud Case; Illegally Obtained $38 Million in Loans

A time-honored tradition in Arizona is to use the state as a base for crimes committed elsewhere in the country.

That's just what John Wanek did: The Phoenix-based developer, owner of Ventana Companies, 3100 North Third Avenue, #201, falsified his financial status, took out tens of millions of dollars in loans, then bought apartment complexes in Ohio with the money. The properties ended up foreclosed, and nearly everyone associated with the deals apparently lost big-time cash.

Common Pleas Judge Julie M. Lynch sentenced Wanek to nine years in prison yesterday, but said even that "wasn't enough."

Even now, you're looking smug as a bug. It makes me sick, frankly," Lynch told Wanek during the sentencing hearing, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Wanek pleaded guilty in August to money laundering, theft, and other charges; investigators had been on his tail for years.

One of Wanek's employees, 30-year-old Robert Swanigan of Mesa, pleaded guilty in July to tampering with public records. He received a suspended sentence in exchange for helping investigators nail Wanek.

Lynch also ordered Wanek to pay $35 million in restitution. We wonder whom he's gonna rip off to make that happen.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.