Smithfield businesswoman lied to acquire $1.7M in loans

Published 8:06 am Friday, July 30, 2010

NORFOLK—A prominent Smithfield businesswoman faces up to 20 years in prison after admitting using false information to obtain 80 loans in excess of more than $1.7 million

Linda T. Rowland, 60, of Smithfield pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a plea accepted by U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis.

Sentencing has been set for Nov. 1. Rowland faces a minimum of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft counts.

Rowland and her husband owned and operated the Rowland Equipment Co. for more than 30 years. The company sells and maintains tractors, farming equipment and other outdoor power equipment.

The company also assists customers in obtaining financing for equipment purchases. From August 2000 through August 2009, Rowland falsified loan agreements to obtain money from several financial services companies. She used the names and personal information of 30 customers and residents to complete loan agreements for the supposed purchase of equipment from her business.

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia State Police and Smithfield Police Department investigated the case.