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Former Banker Pleads Guilty to New Criminal Charges : Courts: Embezzlement case involves official already facing sentencing in fraudulent loans to Little Saigon clients.

March 07, 1995|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — A former banker pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to a second set of criminal charges stemming from ongoing investigations into fraudulent small-business loan schemes, mainly involving small operators in the Little Saigon area of Orange County.

Michael Mahoney, 29, of Downey admitted in court that he embezzled $38,450 from Citizens Commercial Trust & Savings Bank of Pasadena. As a vice president, he authorized payments to his father's financial company for work that the bank itself did over the past two years. No one else has been charged in that scheme, Hochman said.

The last payment Mahoney approved as part of the scheme came a day after he was charged in October with taking $35,477 in kickbacks in 1990 for processing falsified loan applications at Bank of Industry, where he previously was a loan officer.

Those Bank of Industry loans, most arranged through Westminster loan broker Ty Huu Pham, 56, were guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and resulted in losses to the agency--and ultimately the taxpayers--totaling $1.9 million.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Paez set sentencing in both cases for May 11. Mahoney faces a maximum sentence of 210 years in prison and a fine of $7 million.

Also on Monday, Harris Hoang, the last of eight borrowers in the Bank of Industry loan scheme, was sentenced on his guilty plea to loan fraud. U.S. District Judge Consuela Marshall gave him five months in prison followed by five months of home detention, and ordered him to pay full restitution of $123,000.

"In the late 1980s and early 1990s, loan packagers would go out into various Southern California communities and bring in scores of business people in order to get fraudulent loans through the SBA," said Nathan J. Hochman, assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting Mahoney.

The cases against Mahoney, Pham and the eight borrowers are part of the continuing prosecution of borrowers and brokers for bank and loan fraud. Pham also is to be sentenced in May on his guilty pleas to loan fraud.

The charges against Mahoney dismayed SBA officials and bankers who knew that he came from a respected banking family in Los Angeles. Joseph Geiselmann, president of Citizens Bank, said last fall--before allegations arose about Mahoney's activities there--that the young banker had been "excellent" at work.

In the Citizens Bank case, Mahoney pleaded guilty to six counts of embezzling money and lying on SBA documents. In the documents, Mahoney stated that the bank packaged the business loans that were to be backed by the SBA. But he also accepted invoices from his father's company, Crossroads Financial Corp., for the same work and authorized the bank to pay Crossroads. His father's company then paid Mahoney about half the amount it received.

In the Bank of Industry case, Mahoney admitted in court last fall that he took a 1% commission illegally--essentially a kickback--for processing SBA loans in 1990 that came mainly through Pham. In those loans, he processed fake tax returns, fake invoices and other phony documents for borrowers who otherwise didn't qualify for loans, Hochman said.

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