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Santa Barbara Contractor David Lack Sentenced to Prison

A former Santa Barbara contractor was sentenced to nearly 10 years in state prison Thursday after being found guilty on several grand theft charges from stealing more than $1.5 million from two Santa Barbara banks and a former friend.

David Lack, president of the Lack Construction Company which has spearheaded many high-profile construction projects, was on trial for several weeks this summer before being found guilty in August by a jury in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on three counts of grand theft.

On Thursday, Lack was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison in Judge Jean Dandona's courtroom and remanded into custody to begin his sentence, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.

Lack defaulted on two loans amounting to $1.2 million from the Bank of Santa Barbara and Rabobank, as well as a loan of $300,000 from conservative blogger and friend Mary Belle Snow.

The jury was hung on the last count of filing a false tax return.  

During the trial's opening statements, Prosecutor Brian Cota stated that Lack used his reputation to gain trust, and in 2007 Lack had gone to the banks to gain unsecured lines of credit.

Lack's company made its home in a beautiful office building on Carrillo Street, adorned with photos of himself with top conservative leaders such as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"He presented himself as someone that was well off and well-connected," Cota said.

Lack convinced the Bank of Santa Barbara to give him a $1.2 million line of credit and Mid-State Bank, now Rabobank, to provide a $250,000 line of credit.

Cota said Lack inflated his personal net worth, and wasn't forthcoming with loans or debts he owned.

Snow also testified that she was swindled out of $300,000 when Lack approached her about an investment opportunity to form a start-up bank and then used the money to pay bills, including payments to creditors.

"He grossly overstated his assets and understated his liabilities," Cota told Noozhawk after Lack was found guilty.

"The investigation into the fraudulently obtained loans revealed that Mr. Lack acquired the loans in an attempt to increase the bonding capacity of his company, Lack Construction," a statement from the District Attorney's Office said Friday. 

“In this case the victims are not only the two banks whose money was stolen, but also the legitimate construction companies in our community who were bidding for the same jobs that Lack Construction was bidding on, but lost out on those jobs because of Mr. Lack’s criminal activities," said District Attorney Joyce Dudley, adding that the office would continue to prosecute white collar crimes. She commended Cota's work.

In addition to the prison sentence, Lack was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $300,000 to Mary Belle Snow, $600,508.74 to Rabobank, and $1,201,105.03 to Bank of Santa Barbara. 

In July of this year, Lack was also charged in an additional felony complaint with tax evasion, failure to pay unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation fraud, contracting while his contractor’s license was suspended, and grand theft. 

It's alleged that Lack committed those crimes while out on bail on his previous case and he faces an additional 11 years, 8 months, if convicted on all the charges. 

A preliminary hearing on that case has been set for November 21, 2014.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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