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Former mayor charged with bank fraud

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal grand jury has charged a former mayor of Columbus with bank fraud.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Michael Eisenga was indicted on Thursday. The indictment alleges that Eisenga took out a nearly $7 million loan from an Illinois credit union in February 2017 to buy property in Columbus. He claimed the property was under a 20-year lease to Festival Foods and the lease was guaranteed by Supervalue Holdings, Inc.

But neither the lease nor the guarantee ever existed, according to the indictment. Eisenga gave the credit union a lease cancellation agreement in January 2019 after Eisenga’s company defaulted on the loan. But that cancellation agreement wasn’t genuine, either, according to the indictment.

Eisenga’s attorney, Chris Van Wagner, said in a statement that Eisenga plans to cooperate fully with the government in the case.

The credit union sued Eisenga last year to foreclose on the mortgage. A default judgment was entered in July 2019 and the land was sold in a sheriff’s sale in October 2019 for $2.2 million. The credit union won a judgement of just over $5 million.

Eisenga was a major Republican donor a decade ago and enlisted GOP legislators to write a bill that would have reduced his child support payments. The bill’s author, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, withdrew the proposal in 2014.

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