two area businessmen plead guilty to federal fraud charges
St. Louis, MO – Two area businessmen admitted to committing bank fraud against Excel Bank, which failed in 2012, after receiving $4,000,000 in capital from the Treasury Department through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
According to the plea agreements, James Crews and Michael Hilbert admitted to making false statements to Excel Bank with respect to escrow funds or "fix funds" set aside for repairs to rental homes financed through the bank. In reliance on Crews and Hilberts’ claims that work had purportedly been done on the rental properties, the bank disbursed the "fix funds" which Crews and Hilbert used for other purposes. Soon after the funds were disbursed in 2010, the loan went into default.
JAMES CREWS, Wentzville; and MICHAEL HILBERT, St. Charles; appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Carol E. Jackson today and were released on their bonds until sentencing, which is scheduled for July 10, 2014.
Bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or fines up to $1 million. 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 Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Tom Albus is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.