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Former Rolla, MO, bank official and associate plead guilty to conspiracy

May 11, 2012

St. Louis, MO - Mark Freeman pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges involving the sale of real estate in Salem, MO. Co-defendant Joseph Lato, Jr. pleaded guilty to the same charge in March.

According to court documents, Freeman was employed as a loan officer and Assistant Vice President at Citizens Bank of Newburg, headquartered in Rolla, MO. Joseph Lato, Jr. had a lending relationship with Citizens. Between July 2006 and April 2007, Lato sold nine real estate properties located in Salem, MO. For each transaction, Citizens provided the financing and Freeman was the loan officer. Freeman and Lato engaged in a conspiracy in which Lato agreed to give Freeman monetary payments to influence Freeman for his efforts in connection with the sale of the various homes that Lato owned. Freeman found the buyers for the homes and set the sale price. In total, Lato made more than $100,000 in corrupt payments to Freeman.

MARK FREEMAN, Salem, MO, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to corruptly give and receive commissions or gifts for procuring loans. He appeared today before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton. JOSEPH LATO, JR., Kimberling City, MO, pleaded guilty to the same charge in March of this year. Sentencing for Feeman is scheduled for August 3, 2012. Lato is scheduled for sentencing on June 8, 2012.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Reginald Harris is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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