News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Former Vice President Of Pierce Commercial Bank Pleads Guilty To Fraud

Leader of Mortgage Fraud Scheme Faces Ten to Fourteen Years in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2012

A former Senior Vice President and loan officer at Pierce Commercial Bank pleaded guilty late today to charges related to a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the collapse of the bank, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. SHAWN L. PORTMANN, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Make False Statements in Loan Applications and to Make False Statements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and one count of Making a False Statement in Loan Applications.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, both PORTMANN’s attorney and prosecutors will recommend a sentence between ten and fourteen years in prison when sentenced by U. S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on January 28, 2013.  PORTMANN and three others were indicted in August 2011 for a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the collapse of Pierce Commercial Bank in November 2010.

            “Community banks are a critical part of our financial system,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “Mr. Portmann lined his pockets with millions of dollars in commissions and bonuses, at the expense of the families who now find themselves underwater on their mortgages. His fraudulent conduct led to the demise of Pierce Commercial Bank and significant losses for other financial institutions.”

            According to the indictment, between 2004 and 2008, PORTMANN and the other defendants conspired to submit false documents within various loan documents and applications.  They falsified information about the borrowers’ qualifications as well as their intention to reside in the homes being financed.  Based on a review of a sample of loans, the Co-Conspirators caused more than 270 loans that contained false and fraudulent documents and information to be funded by Pierce Commercial Bank representing in excess $45 million in loan proceeds.  More than 100 of these loan files have defaulted, causing in excess of $10 million in loss to Pierce Commercial Bank, secondary investors, and HUD/FHA.  The indictment details multiple false statements included in loan documents regarding an applicant’s employment, income, and intention to reside in the property.

Pierce Commercial Bank received $6.8 million from Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in January 2009.  This money was never repaid.

Two other defendants in the scheme have already pleaded guilty.  JEANETTE R. SALSI, a former underwriter at Pierce Commercial Bank and ADAM S. VOELKER a former loan processor at Pierce Commercial Bank from January 2005 until July 2006, both entered guilty pleas last week.  SONJA L. LIGHTFOOT, the former Senior Vice President of Residential Lending at Pierce Commercial Bank remains scheduled for trial in November 2012.

      This case was brought as part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI, the HUD Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG), Internal Revenue Service Office of Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Werner and Arlen Storm.

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