Feds charge Wisconsin real estate investor with bank fraud, seize $35 million
Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
Nov. 30—ROCHESTER — A Wisconsin real estate investor, who often buys and sells multimillion dollar properties in the Rochester area, is facing three federal charges of bank fraud.
On Nov. 17, Matthew Thomas Onofrio, 31, was indicted by a grand jury and charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office with three counts of bank fraud involving Minnesota properties in St. Cloud, Sauk Centre and Elk River.
The bank that he is accused of defrauding is MidCountry Bank in Bloomington, Minn., whose deposits were insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Onofrio was operating under the corporate name of Northwoods Management LLC in the three instances cited by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
If found guilty, he will be asked to forfeit more than $35 million that the federal government seized from Onofrio's account with Premier Bank in Rochester. Premier Rochester President Corey Heimer issued a short statement about the case.
"Premier Banks is aware of the allegations and has fully cooperated with authorities as they investigate this matter. We will not be making any further comments on the investigation at this time," he wrote.
The complaint alleges that Onofrio "devised and executed a scheme and artifice to defraud federally-insured financial institutions, by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and omissions of material fact." The actions in question took place between 2020 and Aug. 5, 2022, according to the complaint.
The three bank fraud charges in this lawsuit involve:
* A wire transfer of $3.25 million to the account of an investor listed as "C.F." in support of an application for a $9.7 million loan to purchase property in Saint Cloud on June 3, 2021.
* A wire transfer of $430,000 to the account of an investor listed as "P.C." as part of the down payment to purchase property in Sauk Centre on Aug. 11, 2021.
* A wire transfer of $9.5 million to an account of an investor listed as "B.H." in support of an application for a $24.24 million loan to purchase property in Elk River.
He appeared in Minnesota District Court on Nov. 23 and posted a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Onofrio, whose personal website states that he was trained as a nurse anesthetist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, has been involved with the purchase and sale of several large commercial properties in Rochester,
and possibly other nearby communities.
In January 2020, Onofrio paid $7.7 million for
the historic Massey and Blakely buildings
at 16 Second St. SW and 210 First Ave. SW in downtown Rochester. He was also involved with the $12 million purchase of the
City Centre complex
at 310 S. Broadway in 2020, which he later sold for $14 million in 2021.
Onofrio was involved in the purchase and sale of
a northwest Rochester retail center
at 3801 Marketplace Drive NW in May 2021. He purchased it for $3.63 million and sold it four days later for $4.22 million.
In addition to buying and selling property, Onofrio markets himself as an educator and adviser who can teach others how "to create passive wealth through commercial real estate investments and help to break the stigma often associated with big commercial deals."
He also is promoting a book that he wrote, called "Triple Net Investing — Finding Freedom with Commercial Real Estate's Best-Kept Secret." Some retail sites say the book will be published in early 2024.