News and Press Releases

Arkansas Banker Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud Conspiracy with Northport Farm Credit Manager

November 15 , 2011

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced an Arkansas banker to 15 months in prison for conspiring with the branch manager of a Northport farm credit institution in a kickback scheme based on fraudulent loans, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.

U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor sentenced ROGER D. SANDERS, 45, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The judge ordered Sanders to pay $271,190 in restitution to First South Farm Credit in Northport, and to forfeit the same amount to the government. Sanders also must serve five years supervised release after completing his prison sentence. He must report to prison Jan. 25.

Sanders pleaded guilty to the charge in June. He acknowledged that he conspired with Gregory T. Smith, manager of First South Farm Credit, to defraud the credit institution of $271,190 by creating false loans. Sanders kicked back $107,780 of that amount to Smith.

Prosecutors charged Smith in March with four counts of defrauding First South Farm Credit of about $1.9 million between 2007 and 2010. Smith, 36, of Tuscaloosa, pleaded guilty to the charges in April and was sentenced in September to 30 months in prison. The conspiracy between Sanders and Smith was separate from the fraud scheme Smith pleaded guilty to.

“This community farm credit was devastated by the fraud of these two bankers,” Vance said. “This type of fraud undermines our financial system and hurts our communities. A lawful and law-abiding banking industry is essential to the well-being of the nation,” she said. “We stand firm in our commitment to prosecute financial crimes.”

“Mr. Sanders abandoned his professional responsibility in order to line his pockets and now he will pay the price,” Maley said.

The conspiracy charge against Sanders and his plea agreement in the case describe his loan fraud as follows:

Sanders was an employee of an Arkansas bank where Smith was a customer. Smith also was the branch manager of the First South Farm Credit. Between May 2009 and April 2010, the two men conspired to do financial favors for one another through the use of fraudulent loans issued from First South. Smith created false loan documents, sometimes using the names of relatives of Sanders.

Sanders directed loan checks from First South Farm Credit be deposited into his account at a Northport credit union. He also directed an employee at the credit union to draw checks payable to Piney Woods Holdings, which was owned and controlled by Smith. The payments to Piney Woods Holdings represented substantial portions of the First South fraudulent loan disbursements, and Sanders kept the remainder of those loan proceeds for himself.

The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Meadows prosecuted the case.






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