Wilbur Anthony Huff, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges admitting that he engaged in a scheme to prevent Park Avenue Bank, New York, New York, from being designated as “undercapitalized” by regulators – a designation that would prohibit the bank from engaging in certain types of banking transactions, and that would subject the bank to a range of potential enforcement actions by regulators.
According to the criminal Information and Huff‘s plea agreement, from 2008 to 2009, Huff, Charles J. Antonucci, Sr., the President and Chief Executive Officer of Park Avenue Bank, and Matthew L. Morris, the Senior Vice President, engaged in a scheme to prevent Park Avenue Bank from being designated as “undercapitalized” by regulators – a designation that would prohibit the Bank from engaging in certain types of banking transactions, and that would subject the Bank to a range of potential enforcement actions by regulators.
Specifically, they engaged in a series of deceptive, “round-trip” financial transactions to make it appear that Antonucci had infused the Bank with $6.5 million in new capital when, in actuality, the $6.5 million was part of the Bank’s pre-existing capital. Huff, Morris, and Antonucci funneled the $6.5 million from the Bank through accounts controlled by Huff to Antonucci. This was done to make it appear as though Antonucci was helping to stabilize the Bank’s capitalization problem, so the Bank could continue engaging in certain banking transactions that it would otherwise have been prohibited from doing, and to put the Bank in a better posture to receive $11 million from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
To conceal their unlawful financial maneuvering, Huff created, or directed the creation of, documents falsely suggesting that Antonucci had earned the $6.5 million through a bogus transaction involving another company Antonucci owned. Huff, Morris, and Antonucci further concealed their scheme by stealing $2.3 million from General Employment Enterprises, Inc., a publicly-traded temporary staffing company, in order to pay Park Avenue Bank back for monies used in connection with the $6.5 million transaction.
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and David A. Hubbert, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, announced the guilty plea.