United States Attorney
Northern District of Ohio
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Former Chief Operating Officer of Ohio Credit Union Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud
CLEVELAND – Anthony Raguz, the former chief operating officer of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union, pleaded guilty to six counts, including bank fraud, money laundering and bank bribery, for his role in one of the largest credit union failures in American history, the Justice Department announced today.
Raguz, 52, of Mentor, Ohio, issued more than 1,000 fraudulent loans totaling more than $70 million to more than 300 account holders at St. Paul from 2000 to April 2010, according to court documents. He accepted more than $1 million worth of bribes, kickbacks and gifts in exchange for the fraudulent loans, according to court documents.
He is one of 16 people who have been charged in U.S. District Court for their roles in the credit union collapse. Raguz is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 4, 2012.
St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union in Eastlake, Ohio, went into conservatorship and then forced liquidation in April 2010. That resulted in a $170 million loss to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.
“People ought to know that senior bank officials are being held accountable,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “Not every bank failure over the last five years is the result of criminal conduct, but when we find criminal conduct, we are absolutely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting those offenses.”
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office, said: “The St. Paul Federal Credit Union collapse resulted in one of the largest credit union failure ever investigated in U.S. history. This complex, large-scale investigation transcended international borders and will continue until all those involved are brought to justice.”
“It is IRS – Criminal Investigation’s responsibility when investigating financial institution fraud to focus on the flow of the money, which ultimately leads us to the beneficiaries of this illegal activity,” said Darryl Williams, Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Special Agent in Charge. “This investigation cuts to the very core of the current economic crisis our nation faces.”
Raguz oversaw the issuing of loans to hundreds of account holders with little or no assets, income or employment history, according to court documents. He also oversaw scores of “loan resets” in which older loans were fraudulently repaid with new loans in the names of false nominees, including “Auto Truck Company” and “B.S. Construction,” according to court documents.
The money laundering counts stem from Raguz issuing checks totaling $371,800 drawn on his St. Paul account payable to The Vanguard Group, according to court documents.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John D. Sammon and Bridget M. Brennan, following an investigation by the Cleveland Offices of the FBI and the IRS – Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the Eastlake Police Department.
This indictment is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.