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Lights Over Paris frontman sentenced to seven years for fraud

O.C. singer Robb 'TaLLLLL' University applied for millions in bank loans by submitting fake statements, federal prosecutors say.

October 21, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel

From the looks of it, things were going pretty well for the Orange County singer known as Robb "TaLLLLL" University. His band, Lights Over Paris, was touring the country. Its album "Turn Off the Lights" appeared on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. The rapper Game recorded a verse of one of the group's songs and appeared in the music video.

But earlier this year, the illusion began to crack.

In January, Robert Mawhinney (the singer's real name) was charged in Los Angeles federal court with making false statements to obtain millions in loans in order to bankroll his musical career and a lavish lifestyle.

On Monday he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

According to federal prosecutors, Mawhinney, a 30-year-old Anaheim resident and frontman for the group, applied for more than $11 million in loans by submitting fake statements showing that he had millions in cash savings.

In fact, prosecutors said, he had less than $10,000.

Mawhinney used the money to pay for travel, entertainment and a tour bus that cost more than $750,000, according to a written statement provided by the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California.

Authorities said he also helped two associates fraudulently obtain more than $1.7 million in loans for their music business.

On April 22, Mawhinney pleaded guilty to four counts of making false statements to federally insured banks and one count of money laundering. One day after making the plea, he again made false statements to a financial institution in an attempt to get more credit, prosecutors said.

In a sentencing memorandum, which argued that Mawhinney had accepted responsibility for the crimes and deserved a lighter sentence, his girlfriend, Lauren Phillips, said the singer meant no harm.

"I know that Robb knows what he did was wrong, but what I also know is that a lot of what Robb did came from the passion of wanting to live out his dream, the dream of being a rock star," Phillips wrote in a letter to the judge.

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