Champaign-born developer headed to prison for fraud in Quad Cities

Champaign-born developer headed to prison for fraud in Quad Cities

CHAMPAIGN — Developer Todd Raufeisen spent six years defrauding 22 investors out of $1.7 million in the Quad Cities area.

Now he'll spend six years in federal prison.

The Champaign native and University of Illinois graduate pleaded guilty in May to wire fraud and money laundering from 2010 to 2016 and was sentenced earlier this month.

While Raufeisen has mostly been involved in projects in the Quad Cities area over the past few years, he was the developer behind the Marketplace at Savoy at the corner of Dunlap Street and Curtis Road, as well as the Christie Clinic development at Curtis and Staley roads that never took off, among other projects.

Champaign and Savoy officials said their cities were never the victims of any fraud and blamed any issues in the developments on market conditions.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois, Raufeisen promised investors a higher rate of interest than conventional investments and shorter turnarounds on return of the principle and interest. He also promised that investors' money would be placed in escrow until needed, when he instead had been using the money for personal expenses and to pay previous investors he owed.

He also admitted to forging signatures on promissory notes that promised repayment of invested principle and interest, the U.S. attorney's office said when Raufeisen pleaded guilty in May.

"We saw none of that down here," said Dick Helton, Savoy's village manager. "I think we protected ourselves pretty well. ... The village never issued any bonds, and they were never requested."

Instead of a McDonald's, a CVS pharmacy and an Aldi grocery store, as originally planned, the Marketplace at Savoy now includes a CVS at the corner and a SportsVet pet clinic.

"Todd was energetic and had a lot of ideas," Helton said. "We started working with Todd back in 2006, 2007, on that project, and when the economy took a hit, things slowed up a lot until the CVS project came along."

Helton said while the project is different than originally proposed, it has been a success for the village.

"It's a whole lot different than what we ended up with, but generally speaking, we're satisfied with the quality of businesses that are there," Helton said.

Raufeisen was also the main developer behind the plan introduced in 2010 to build a Christie Clinic campus and subdivision at Curtis and Staley roads in southwest Champaign.

It would have included the Christie campus, senior transitional housing, a wellness center and a 105-room-hotel, along with small retail or office spaces.

This plan never came to fruition, and it's now the location where Carle at the Fields is being built.

"That development died on the vine," said Bruce Knight, Champaign's planning and development director. "A lot of developments stalled somewhat during that time period, so it wasn't uncommon."

Like Savoy, Champaign didn't lose anything in the development.

"We didn't put any money into it. There weren't any incentives or anything involved," Knight said.

Christie Clinic couldn't be reached for comment on why the development failed.

Local real estate broker Todd Salen said he hadn't dealt with Raufeisen in years, but had been approached with a deal a couple years ago that he turned down.

"I was surprised, to that degree," Salen said about Raufeisen's crimes. "He approached me about investing, two or three years ago. ... It was too good to be true."

Raufeisen will begin serving his sentence Oct. 23 and will have to pay back $1.7 million in restitution.

At his sentencing earlier this month, Raufeisen apologized to his victims, several of whom gave statements at the hearing, according to media reports.

"The pain in my heart and soul will never go away," Raufeisen said.