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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Federal case says bank employees played key roles in Charlotte, North Carolina-area fraud schemes

Bribed bank employees were key to the fraudulent mortgages taken out by members of cell No. 2, prosecutors allege in the indictment filed last week.Bribes were not paid to approve any loans. Rather, they were paid to provide false information or verifications for loan applications, usually to banks the accused didn’t work for, prosecutors allege.That part of the operation was led by Landrick McClain, a Maryland resident and owner and chief executive of Credit Risk Re Ltd., a financial-services firm based in Washington, the indictment says.Vic Henson, who was branch manager for Bank of America’s Steele Creek branch, was paid $38,000 in the fall of 2007 for writing a bogus $5 million letter of credit for an unidentified company involved in the scheme, the indictment says.That November, Jamilia Brown, an assistant manager at BofA’s Cotswold Branch, produced another bogus letter of credit and was paid $55,000, prosecutors say.
Bonnie Ramey, an employee at Wachovia’s Ballantyne branch, was paid $9,000 about the same time for forging a letter of credit, the indictment alleges.Another Wachovia employee, Danyelle Eason, is accused of accepting smaller bribes — around $150 — to confirm that “straw buyers” set up by the cell had accounts with balances of $170,000 to $1.5 million to enable the cells to complete some of their mortgage schemes, the indictment says. She received a total of more than $1,000, according to court documents.Neither the indictment nor other documents filed so far in the mortgage investigation list either BofA or Wachovia as being a target for any fraudulent loans.The only bank employee alleged to have profited from fraudulent mortgages taken from her employer is Linda Clarke, who worked for First Tennessee Bank’s Horizon Home Loans division.The indictment says in the summer of 2007 she and her husband received $187,000 in proceeds from a fraudulent $1.4 mortgage issued by First Tennessee.Clarke and her husband helped provide false information for the loan application, the indictment alleges.The bank lost almost $1.5 million on two bogus mortgages that totaled $2.83 million, court documents say.

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