Judge Gavel on a wooden background, Law library concept.

Two small legal practices have moved into downtown office buildings.

The Baton Rouge offices of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore are now located on the 11th floor of the Chase North Tower, attorney Matt Bailey told the Downtown Development District Board Tuesday. Sprinkle Law Firm has moved into One American Place, said attorney Richard Sprinkle.

A Zachary businessman pleaded guilty Monday to fraud charges, admitting in federal court that he obtained more than $29 million from banks and private equity firms by making false statements.

Michael Allen Worley, 57, entered his plea to bank fraud and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles. Worley faces up to 50 years in prison and millions in fines and restitution.

“Mr. Worley executed schemes to fraudulently induce banks and private lenders into giving him millions of dollars, and used unwitting associates of his to assist him,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin in a statement released Monday.

Worley is the former chief executive officer of Worley Claims Services and the owner of several businesses, including holding company, W Resources LLC, a bar, a bed and breakfast and a sporting goods store.

According to court filings, Worley and his businesses obtained $18 million in loans from The Highlands Bank in Jackson (which was acquired by Baton Rouge-based Investar Bank in 2017), United Mississippi Bank of Natchez and First Interstate Bank of Billings, Montana.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

According to the guilty plea, there were materially false and fraudulently representations in the loan applications, including overstating Worley’s income and assets, misrepresenting the amount of cash he had on hand, omitting debts and overstating his overall net worth.

Worley also misrepresented the true purposes of the loan, such as saying he would use a $7.8 million line of credit from Highlands Bank to buy Worley Claims Service stock, when he ended up using the money to repay the business for money he took out of it and repay debts.

Worley admitted to obtaining more than $11 million from Sprint 1, a New Orleans business, and NCC Financial, a Houston-based private lender, through wire fraud. This included sending an e-mail to NCC which included an altered screenshot that showed he had about $5.9 million in a bank account. In reality, the account had less than $17,000 in it.

Worley and the businesses he controlled defaulted on some of the loans from the banks and private lenders, causing them to suffer financial losses. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2018.


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.