A former Fifth Third Bank vice president pleaded not guilty in federal court on Wednesday to charges that she falsified information on loan documents in exchange for bribe money.
Paulette Roberts, 54, of Sylvania appeared in U.S. District Court in Toledo on one count each of conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud, financial institution fraud, and bank bribery, as well as 41 counts of money laundering.
According to the 44-count indictment unsealed Wednesday, she was allegedly involved in a scheme that resulted in the loss of $12 million to the bank.
According to a preliminary calculation of potential penalties, Ms. Roberts faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
“Financial crimes come in all shapes and sizes, from self-dealing to Ponzi schemes,” said Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “In this case, the defendant took advantage of her employer's trust in an effort to enrich herself.”
Ms. Roberts, who was released on a $200,000 unsecured bond, declined to comment as she left court, as did her attorney, Catherine Killam.
Court records show that Ms. Roberts was a vice president and loan officer for the bank in the commercial real estate department from July, 2004, through February, 2007.
It was during her employment that she allegedly demanded money from potential commercial borrowers who had loans pending before Fifth Third Bank.
The 29-page indictment outlined in detail allegations that Ms. Roberts schemed with several unidentified people who obtained loans through Fifth Third Bank to purchase, develop, and sell property in Dundee, Mich.
She is accused of falsifying documents and submitting them to bank officials to obtain credit approval for large commercial loans that otherwise would have been denied.
As a result of defaults upon these loans, Fifth Third Bank of Toledo incurred a loss of about $12 million, the indictment said.
In exchange for falsifying the documents, Ms. Roberts solicited and accepted payments of $100,000 from the borrowers, which she accepted through a company she created to hide the transactions, the indictment alleges. With this money, Ms. Roberts allegedly purchased two vehicles, gold coins, and other assets.
The 41 counts of money laundering relate to each financial transaction related to the receipt and spending of bribe money.
In a written statement released on Wednesday, Fifth Third Bank said: “We have cooperated fully with the government in the investigation of a former employee, however, as a matter of corporate policy, we do not comment on litigation.”
Also charged in the conspiracy in a separate indictment was Giuseppe Cangialosi, who faces one count of conspiracy.
Mr. Cangialosi was indicted Sept. 19 in a nine-page indictment that charged that he and others “did pay a total of $100,000 to the loan officer through a company created by the loan officer to conceal the unlawful nature of the payments.”
No arraignment date has yet been set for Mr. Cangialosi.
Both cases have been assigned to Judge Jeffrey Helmick..
Contact Erica Blake at 419-213-2134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.