Eau Claire man enters plea deal in $35M bank fraud scheme

A Wisconsin man will have to forfeit more than $35 million after he pleaded guilty to his role in a bank fraud scheme.

Federal court documents show Matthew Thomas Onofrio from Eau Claire entered a guilty plea to one count of bank fraud in exchange for two other charges being dropped.

An indictment against Onofrio alleges he defrauded several banks while running the company Northwoods Management between 2019 and 2022. Prosecutors say he used the company to obtain loans to buy commercial real estate by misleading or lying to lenders, including “falsely representing the creditworthiness of the investors” involved in the scheme.

Onofrio allegedly lied about having sufficient funds for down payments on these properties and would temporarily deposit the money into an investor’s account so it would pass a credit inquiry. He would take the money back right after the investor provided proof of funds.

Prosecutors say Onofrio also lent the money for down payments on these properties unbeknownst to the banks providing loans. This undisclosed loan created a “liability that undercut the investor’s creditworthiness,” court documents state.

According to the terms of the plea deal, his prison sentence could be anywhere between four months and 10 years in length. He also faces a fine of double the amount defrauded through the scheme — somewhere between $9.5 million and $25 million — along with restitution.

Onofrio will be ordered to forfeit more than $35.7 million that was seized from a bank account along with any property he gained through the scheme, the plea deal states.