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August 8, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Randall C. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge of the Nashville Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation announced today the indictment of Steven Alan Standridge, age 55, of Mt. Ida, Arkansas. The twelve count Indictment, which was returned today by the Grand Jury, charges Standridge with one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud, four counts of aiding and abetting bank fraud, one count of bank fraud, five counts of money laundering, and one count of making a false statement to a financial institution.

“The United States Attorney’s Office would like to thank not only the FBI and IRS-CI for their diligent work on this investigation but also the Arkansas Insurance Department-Criminal Investigation Division for their invaluable assistance throughout the investigation,”stated Thyer. “The type of fraud alleged in the Indictment impacts not only the financial institutions involved but society as a whole, and partnership between federal and state agencies helps combat these offenses.”

Coleman added, “This was a complex investigation centered around repeated misrepresentations to multiple lenders. The FBI will continue to work with our state and local partners to stop those whose activities threaten the solvency of our financial institutions."

"IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to aggressively investigating those associated with these types of financially motivated crimes that wreak economic havoc on the American citizen and our communities. Working cooperatively with our fellow law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will strive to make those responsible accountable for their actions," stated Henry.

This Indictment follows the waivers of Indictment and pleas of guilty to an Information by Danny Wood of Idabel, Oklahoma and Gregory A. Hunt of Russellville, Arkansas. On March 2, 2012, Wood pled guilty to aiding and abetting bank fraud. On July 6, 2012, he was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment. On June 6, 2012, Hunt pled guilty to aiding and abetting bank fraud. His sentencing date is not yet scheduled.

Throughout the time period set forth in the Indictment, Standridge owned, operated, and/or managed various independent insurance agencies in the State of Arkansas. Through those companies, Standridge provided various types of insurance policies and bonds to his customers including Danny Wood and Gregory A. Hunt.

The Indictment alleges that Standridge conspired with Wood and Hunt to commit bank fraud. The Indictment states that as part of the conspiracy, Standridge arranged for Wood, Hunt, and their companies to obtain premium finance loans. Standridge would either purchase the insurance policies that were collateral for those loans and then later cancel the policies or would never purchase the policies that were listed on the premium finance agreements. The proceeds of those loans were ultimately paid to Standridge and were used for purposes other than those set forth in the loan agreements. Some of the transactions involving the loan proceeds are charged as money laundering offenses in the indictment.

The statutory penalty for the bank fraud and false statement to a financial institution offenses is not more than thirty (30) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000,000. The statutory penalty for the money laundering offenses is not more than ten (10) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation with the assistance of the Arkansas Insurance Department-Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen Whatley.

An indictment contains only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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