A 47-year-old Northridge man was sentenced Monday to six months in prison for defrauding a Santa Clarita bank of $133,050.
U. S. District Court Judge J. Spencer Letts also ordered Gerald Joseph Cucco to pay back now-defunct Santa Clarita National Bank, which is owned by Bank of America. He also is to serve five years probation.
The maximum prison sentence that the judge could have imposed was five years because Cucco took the money in 1986 and 1987, before the savings and loan crisis prompted legislators to increase the penalty for bank fraud to 30 years in prison, Assistant U. S. Atty. John S. Wiley said.
The prosecution recommended the relatively lenient prison sentence because Cucco pleaded guilty, saving the government the expense of a trial, Wiley said. Also, Cucco's attorney argued that Cucco is in poor health, Wiley said.
Cucco, who owned a check-cashing business, applied for and received at least nine loans from the bank using false names, said Gary Auer, an FBI supervising agent. The bank paid the proceeds of the loans into new checking accounts in the names of the supposed loan applicants, he said. Cucco then cashed checks from the accounts at his check-cashing business, Auer said.
Auer refused to divulge exactly how the bank discovered the fraud, saying only that "there's always a paper trail in something like this."
Cucco, who is free on a $5,000 bond, is scheduled to begin serving his sentence July 8, Wiley said.