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Former Peak Fitness Executives Charged with Fraud

Jeffrey Stec and Kenneth Handley, former executives of the bankrupt Peak Fitness club chain, have been charged with commercial loan fraud and money laundering conspiracy, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Stec, who owned Peak Fitness, and Handley, who was the company’s chief financial officer, fraudulently obtained loans from Wells Fargo and Wachovia, loans that ended up costing the banking institutions almost $2 million combined, according to court documents filed in an indictment on Monday.

Prosecutors say Stec and Handley wanted to purchase a condo on Isle of Palms, SC, for $915,000, and the money from a $590,000 commercial loan from Wachovia obtained in 2007 was diverted into Handley’s personal bank account, the newspaper reports. Handley later was approved for an $856,000 loan from Wells Fargo, most of which was transferred back into business accounts, the indictment says.

Stec also obtained three more loans from Wachovia in 2007 and 2008 totaling $3.8 million. The loans allegedly were intended to build or upgrade clubs in Winston-Salem, NC; Kingsport, TN; and Danville, VA, but the money was diverted to other purposes, according to the Observer.

Prosecutors claim Wells Fargo lost about $230,000 and Wachovia about $1.7 million.

Stec sold Fitness Management Group, the parent company of Peak Fitness, in 2007 and bought it back the following year. He also owned Peak Performance Motorsports, which he used for NASCAR competition, according to the indictment.

Fitness Management Group filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Nevada-based Fuzion Investment Capital LLC bought the assets of Peak Fitness out of bankruptcy and later added Allstate Financial Group, Bothell, WA, as an investor. The former Peak Fitness clubs that remained in operation were changed to ZX Fitness. Last month, ZX Fitness closed three clubs in South Carolina.

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