Former CEO And President Of Gateway Bank Pleads Guilty To Bank Fraud Conspiracy
Defendant Engaged In Phony Transactions To Conceal Bank’s Toxic Assets
Earlier today, Poppi Metaxas, the former President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gateway Bank, FSB (Gateway) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud for her role in defrauding the bank of more than $1.8 million in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
The guilty plea was announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); and Christina Scaringi, Special Agent-in-Charge, Northeast Region, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG).
“As Gateway Bank struggled to survive under the burden of its accumulated toxic assets, its CEO Poppi Metaxas turned to sham transactions to deceive regulators and convince them that the bank had rid itself of its bad loans and underwater real estate holdings. Today’s guilty plea puts bank officers on notice that they will be brought to justice if they resort to lies and deceit to fix mistakes of the past,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie. Mr. Currie thanked the FBI, SIGTARP, and HUD-OIG for their hard work and dedication through the course of this five-year investigation and prosecution.
According to court filings and the facts presented at the plea hearing, between 2009 and 2010, Metaxas engaged in a scheme to defraud Gateway in connection with Gateway’s sale of non-performing assets and mortgage loans to three entities in exchange for $15 million. Specifically, Metaxas caused Gateway to enter into a sham loan agreement with Ideal Mortgage Bankers Ltd. d/b/a Lend America, a Long Island mortgage lender and Gateway’s largest mortgage lending client. Metaxas and her co-conspirators, through a series of wire transfers, then used the proceeds of that sham loan to satisfy the 25 percent down payment that the three entities owed to Gateway in connection with the sale of the non-performing assets and loans. To conceal the fraudulent “round trip” nature of the loan funds, Metaxas deceived the board of directors of Gateway and, in October 2009, she provided false testimony to bank regulators when asked about the source of the down payment.
Today’s guilty plea took place before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York. When sentenced, Metaxas faces up to five years in prison.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Business and Security Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Walter M. Norkin and Christopher L. Nasson are in charge of the prosecution.
Today’s announcement is 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 is 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 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 14-CR-190 (JFB)