Article Courtesy of The Sun
By Jon Burstein
Published March 21, 2011
Two South Florida bankers could face prison time after pleading guilty on Friday to taking bribes to process fraudulent bank loan applications.
David Ramoy and Daniel Agudelo were arrested as part of a two-year investigation into a Boca Raton company that promised clients it could help them secure loans despite poor credit histories.
Francis Santa, the owner of Palm Beach Business Consultants, would pay off corrupt bankers to push through fraudulent loans for his clients, according to federal authorities.
Ramoy, 32, had been a bank officer at the Floridian Community Bank branch in Delray Beach, and Agudelo, 34, worked at the
Fifth Third Bank branch in West Palm Beach, court records show. They were two of seven local bankers indicted in January as a result of the federal inquiry.
Ramoy and Agudelo each pleaded guilty in West Palm Beach federal court to conspiring to commit bank fraud and a charge related to money laundering. The bank fraud charge could carry a maximum of 30 years in prison, but both men likely face a sentence significantly less than that under the recommended federal sentencing guidelines.
Ramoy and Agudelo each processed a fraudulent bank loan for an FBI agent posing as a businessman. From there, the agent asked for help in laundering money from a marijuana operation. Ramoy and Agudelo each agreed to move around the drug proceeds.
When federal agents confronted the bankers, both admitted to taking bribes to process loans, court records show.
Seven people arrested in the Palm Beach Business Consultants investigation have pleaded guilty to various fraud-related charges. Two of the company's employees — Rodney Kahane and Daniel Paine — were sentenced for creating the fake loan documents, receiving prison sentences of 66 months and 57 months, respectively.
Two Palm Beach Business Consultants clients and a straw purchaser listed on a loan recently entered guilty pleas, while two more bankers are set to enter into plea agreements within the next few weeks.
That would leave six defendants, including Santa, awaiting trial. Among them are Thomas Correa, an assistant principal with the Broward School District, and Jeanne Ward, a former investigative aide for the Broward Sheriff's Office.