MN Man Sentenced for $5M Real Estate Scheme

Robert Dufresne of Cottage Grove, who admitted to defrauding investors out of more than $5 million in a multi-state house-flipping scheme, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

A man from Cottage Grove was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for defrauding investors out of more than $5 million in a house-flipping scheme that spread across multiple states, Minnesota's U.S. Attorney's office said.

Robert Dufresne, 47, pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. In addition to sentencing Dufresne to eight years in prison, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis ordered him to pay more than $6.5 million in restitution.

Dufresne's crime took place between October 2005 and October 2008, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In his plea agreement, Durfresne admitted to soliciting investors to provide money-supposedly for the purchase, rebuilding, and resale of residential properties in Minnesota and other states. Investors were under the impression that money from the sale of the properties would be divided among them, but Dufresne allegedly kept the invested money for himself and used funds from new investors to pay off the old ones.

The attorney's office said that the sentence was longer than expected because Dufresne sought to liquidate some of his assets after entering his guilty plea. According to a Pioneer Press report, Dufresne sold his Ford Mustang for $33,000 and attempted to sell a motorcycle even though he agreed, as part of his plea agreement, to forfeit all the property he gained in the scheme.