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Thursday, September 18, 2014

A southwestern Illinois woman faces up to three decades in federal prison

A southwestern Illinois woman faces up to three decades in federal prison now that she's admitted embezzling more than $100,000 from a bank where she worked.
Forty-five-year-old Cynthia Palmer of Alton pleaded guilty Wednesday in East St. Louis to bank fraud and is to be sentenced Dec. 15.
Authorities say Palmer was working at a U.S. Bank branch in Bethalto when she stole nearly $106,000 from the accounts of customers ranging in age from 65 to 96.
The (Alton) Telegraph reports that Palmer's attorney, John Stobbs, said he plans to introduce evidence at his client's sentencing hearing that she is a breast cancer survivor and suffered from depression.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Texas bank VP sentenced to 30 months for loan fraud

A former bank vice president was sentenced to federal prison in U.S. District Court in Waco, Texas for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars.
U.S. District Judge sentenced Cory Cole to 30 months in federal prison, followed by five years on supervised released.
He was also ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine.
Cole embezzled the money through loans based on fraudulent documentation.
On July 3, Cole pleaded guilty to one count of theft or embezzlement by a bank employee.
He admitted that beginning in January 2013, while service as a vice president of Citizens State Bank in Itasca, he stole bank funds by approving more than 20 fraudulent loans

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Former bank worker sentenced for embezzlement in Missouri

A Kansas City woman is going to prison for embezzling more than $650,000 for the bank where she worked.
The U.S. Attorney's office says 54-year-old Lisa L. Taylor was sentenced Thursday to six years and six months without parole.
Taylor pleaded guilty in February to defrauding UMB Bank, where she worked as a closing account specialist from May 2006 until October 2010. Eleven of her friends and relatives in Missouri and Kansas also pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy.
Taylor admitted generating 377 fraudulent checks, some of them payable to friends and relatives who cashed the checks and gave Taylor part of the proceeds.
The scheme also involved $97,000 worth of checks made payable to fictitious names. Taylor forged the signatures and deposited the checks into her own bank account.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two More Charged in Taupa Lithuanian Fraud Case

Two Ohio men were charged Tuesday for allegedly embezzling nearly $1.9 million in a massive fraud case that led to the collapse of the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland in July 2013, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cleveland.

Gary Chaney, 49, of Streetsboro, and Patrick Bruckman, 58, of Chester Township, both Cleveland suburbs, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union.

Bruckman and Chaney maintained personal accounts at the cooperative, as well as a corporate account for Network Systems Engineering a computer consulting firm they owned, according to the court documents.

These two men and four others including Alex Spirikaitis, Taupa Lithuanian’s former president/CEO, allegedly conspired to defraud the credit union from 2007 through 2013.

The fraud case caused a $33.5 million loss to NCUSIF, according to the NCUA Office of Inspector General’s material loss report.

Bruckman and Chaney allegedly wrote checks drawn on their personal and corporate accounts for which there were insufficient funds, court papers show.

Chaney withdrew approximately $241,000 from his personal account. Bruckman withdrew approximately $63,000 from his personal account. Both collectively withdrew $1.5 million from their corporate accounts for which there were insufficient funds. The total loss to the credit union was $1.8 million, federal prosecutors alleged.

Although Chaney and Bruckman did not have sufficient funds in their accounts to cover their withdrawals, Spirikaitis allowed the overdrafts to clear their accounts. Chaney and Bruckman also never submitted any credit applications or loan documentation for the money they received from Spirikaitis to cover their overdrafts, according to court documents.

Last week, John Struna, 51, of the Cleveland suburb of Concord Township, was indicted for allegedly embezzling $2.3 million from Taupa Lithuanian. He was indicted on one count each for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements. He also was indicted on four counts of money laundering.

Spirikaitis pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

He admitted to embezzling $4.2 million from Taupa Lithuanian between 2001 and 2013. With the funds, he built a $1.6 million home in an affluent Cleveland suburb, paid for a stadium luxury suite at Cleveland Browns games and bought nine vehicles, according to court documents.

Spirikaitis is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23.

Earlier this year, former teller Michael Ruksenas pleaded guilty to conspiring with Spirikaitis to embezzle more than $481,000 and former bookkeeper Vytas Apanavicius pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit embezzlement. He admitted to stealing nearly a million dollars from Taupa Lithuanian, with help from Spirikaitis.

In February, Ruksenas was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison. Apanavicius is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 28.

Federal prosecutors expect to charge a former credit union employee who has been identified only by the  initials, A.B., according to court documents.

The NCUA and the Ohio Department of Commerce took possession of Taupa Lithuanian in July 2013 and placed it into receivership because of insolvency. The Cleveland cooperative served about 1,150 members.

Embezzling Jacksonville banker sentenced to 5 years

Embezzling Jacksonville banker Christopher David Boston was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday afternoon for embezzling at least $10.5 million from his job at Fifth Third Bank over a four-year period.
Boston, 40, pleaded guilty in March to bank fraud. He also must pay $2 million in restitution to the bank after he's released. He faced up to 30 years in prison and a $4.4 million fine.
Boston's sentencing was delayed last month after Senior U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. recused himself for an undisclosed reason. District Judge Brian Davis will handle the sentencing.
Boston had been free on bond and was recently allowed by a judge to travel to Ohio to help his parents with home repair issues before returning to Jacksonville for sentencing, court records show.
Boston operated a bank-fraud scheme that included stealing at least $10.5 million from one corporate account and transferring money from two individual accounts to cover the original thefts. The embezzlement occurred over 3 1/2 years ending in April 2013 at the Fifth Third Bank off San Jose Boulevard in north Mandarin.
A victim of the scheme whose husband lost and then got back nearly $6 million told the Times-Union that Boston’s actions devastated her family and refuted any notion of him being considered a Robin Hood-like character for helping his customers.
Court records show Boston used $210,000 to make $2,000 monthly mortgage payments on his family’s Mandarin home, install a backyard pool and for other expenses. The home on Emilys Crossing Court was turned over to Boston’s wife in a divorce last year, and Boston said he’s now living in another Mandarin home in the 11500 block of Summer Brook Court.
Prosecutors said Boston used the rest of the embezzled money to help his customers, and ultimately his own standing in the bank, with favors such as paying off troubled loans and making “off-book” loans to those whose applications had been denied.
The bank replenished the embezzled accounts and had arranged new loans with Boston’s customers, recovering all but about $2 million, which is federally insured, court records show.
Boston, never arrested, was asked to sign a $20,000 signature bond. Prosecutors didn’t seek detention since they considered him neither a threat to the community nor, with a 2-year-old son, a flight risk.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Lake County businessman recharged for embezzlement of $2.3 million from Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland

A federal grand jury has recharged a Lake County businessman, John Struna, in the embezzlement of $2.3 million from Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union of Cleveland.

The seven-count indictment charges Struna with seven counts of bank fraud, making false statements and money laundering. The indictment replaces a one-count, $2.5 million information filed against Struna in January.

Credit union CEO Alex Spirikaitis, former teller Michael Ruksenas and Vytas Apanavicius, a Mentor accountant, have been convicted of similar charges of defrauding the Taupa credit union, according to a news release from the office of Steven Dettelbach, U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“This defendant is charged as part of a group that used others' hard earned savings as a personal piggy bank,” Dettelbach said in the release. “Mr. Struna’s greed has caught up with him with this indictment.”

The National Credit Union Administration and the Ohio Department of Commerce placed Taupa into receivership last year, due to its insolvency. The credit union had about 1,150 members and assets of approximately $24 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Defendant in Detroit Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud in Michigan

In July of 2013, seven individuals were indicted for the roles they played in a Detroit mortgage fraud operation. Those who were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District Court of Michigan included Peter Allen, Suhail Hallak, Al Karana, Wasseem Shamoun, Joey Murad, Jeffrey Najor, and Jason Najor. The defendants were alleged to have used fraudulent information for the purpose of obtaining mortgage loans from banks and lending institutions beginning in January of 2006, and continuing until December of 2008. muB6xyw

It was announced by the Department of Justice on August 12, 2014 that Wasseem Shamoun has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Shamoun pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. According to the July 2013 indictment, the scheme resulted in area banks and financial institutions paying out fraudulent mortgage loan funds that totaled approximately $10 million.

Five of the seven defendants were charged with 20 counts of bank fraud each, including Shamoun. Several agencies assisted in the investigation including the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the IRS – Criminal Investigation, and the FBI. According to the release issued by the Department of Justice, Shamoun was personally responsible for a loss of approximately $394,000 to local financial institutions.

Shamoun and his co-defendants are said to have devised a scheme in which property was purchased in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 per home. The defendants then recruited straw buyers who would be paid a fee to submit fraudulent home mortgage loan applications. The prices paid to the defendants by straw buyers for single family homes ranged from $90,000 to $120,000 per home, with the defendants paying themselves $10,000 to $50,000 commissions.

Shamoun is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2, and faces a $1 million fine and statutory maximum prison term of 30 years for his role in the conspiracy.

Federal crimes such as conspiracy to defraud financial institutions in schemes such as the one described above are extremely serious. Individuals who are accused of mortgage fraud conspiracy or other federal crimes must consult with an experienced and aggressive Michigan criminal defense attorney in order to obtain the best possible results.