A federal judge in Georgia has denied motions for acquittal and a new trial from a convicted felon and a co-owner of the former BB&T Financial Center in downtown Winston-Salem.
Tyson “Ty” Rhame was convicted Oct. 10, 2018, on 11 of 13 counts of mail- and wire-fraud conspiracy, as well as multiple counts of mail and wire fraud.
The sentencing hearing for Rhame and three co-defendants had been delayed multiple times as their motions for acquittal and a new trial were pursued.
A new sentencing date was not included in the orders issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Steve Jones. The U.S. Attorney's office handling the case declined to comment Friday on the ruling.
The BB&T building at 200 W. Second St. has been listed since March 2016 as a potential forfeiture target for the U.S. government if Rhame was convicted.
The defendants all said in their sentencing-delay motions that “there will be a number of disputed issues that will likely require briefing, significant argument and supplemental evidence presented by the parties as to, among other things, the loss amount, which impacts the (sentencing) guidelines’ calculations applicable to each defendant.”
Jones wrote that “as for each count for which defendants were found guilty in the jury’s verdict, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the court finds that any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.”
When specifically addressing Rhame, Jones wrote, “There was sufficient evidence for a jury to have found the essential elements of the crime of false statements (as to each particular count alleged against defendant Rhame) beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Jones admonished Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Krepp and his trial team for how it handled the discovery process for the defendants. Although Jones declined to pursue sanctions against Krepp and his trial team, he wrote, “The court is disappointed in some of the discovery and document production conduct.”
Rhame has shared ownership of the building with Charlotte investor Ray Gee. They paid $60 million for it in December 2014, nearly $26 million more than its tax value at the time.
Rex Morgan, an attorney representing Gee, said in October 2018 that “we believe that Mr. Rhame’s conviction will have no effect upon the on-going operation of the BB&T Financial Center, which is being managed by a company owned by Ray.”
Morgan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Thursday on the judge’s orders.
Rhame was the founder of Sterling Currency Group LLC of Atlanta. Federal attorneys claimed that between 2010 and June 2015, Sterling grossed more than $600 million in revenue from the sale of the Iraqi dinar and other currencies.
Rhame and Bell also were convicted of making false statements to federal law-enforcement agents. The jury acquitted the defendants of money-laundering charges.
Federal attorneys claimed that between 2010 and June 2015, Sterling grossed more than $600 million in revenue from the sale of the Iraqi dinar and other currencies; Rhame and Shaw received more than $180 million in distributions.
According to the indictment, at least $19.9 million was laundered through 24 accounts. Officials also flagged another $22,643 in 10 accounts for wire and mail fraud.
The Sterling officials were accused by U.S. attorneys of “taking steps to make investors believe they would get rich by investing in the Iraqi dinar.”
Truist Financial Corp. said on March 5 that it is leaving the building — BB&T Corp.’s headquarters for 25 years before its purchase of SunTrust Banks Inc. of Atlanta created Truist — in favor of three lower-profile sites it owns in the city.
“These transitions are part of Truist’s overall corporate real-estate strategy to move our teams from leased spaces into owned buildings whenever possible,” Truist spokeswoman Shelley Miller said. The new headquarters of the combined banks is in Charlotte.