Paul Allen, former chief executive officer of Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corporation (TBW), has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in a $2.9 billion-plus fraud scheme that contributed to the failure of TBW. Allen of Oakton, Va., pleaded guilty in April 2011 to one count of making false statements and one count of conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud.
Allen's co-conspirator, Sean Ragland, a former senior financial analyst at TBW who reported to Allen, was also sentenced to three months in prison. Ragland of San Antonio, Texas pleaded guilty in March 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. Allen and Ragland both admitted to conspiring with Lee Farkas, the former chairman of TBW, and others, to defraud financial institutions that had invested in Ocala Funding LLC, a facility wholly-owned by TBW.
Farkas was convicted on April 19, 2011, on 14 counts of fraud for his role in masterminding the scheme, which was one of the largest bank frauds in the country. Farkas is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, June 27. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has a civil action pending against Farkas in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Co-conspirators Catherine Kissick, a former senior vice president of Colonial Bank and head of its Mortgage Warehouse Lending Division (MWLD); Teresa Kelly, a former operations supervisor in Colonial Bank’s MWLD; Raymond Bowman, the former president of TBW; and Desiree Brown, the former treasurer of TBW, have also pleaded guilty for their participation in the scheme. Earlier this month, Kissick was sentenced to eight years in prison, Brown was sentenced to six years in prison, Bowman was sentenced 30 months in prison and Kelly was sentenced to three months in prison.
“As TBW’s chief executive officer, Mr. Allen served as an accomplice to Lee Farkas and his massive fraud scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “He concealed TBW’s staggering deficits through false financial reports, which ultimately caused investors to lose more than $1.5 billion. Today’s sentence sends a strong message that corporate fraud by senior executives will not be tolerated. At the same time, it demonstrates that substantial assistance in the government’s investigation and prosecution of corporate fraud will be taken into account at sentencing.”
According to court documents and information presented at trial, Allen and Ragland participated in the scheme from early 2005 through August 2009 by distributing materially false documents to investors in Ocala Funding that misrepresented the financial condition of the facility. The fraud scheme ultimately caused investors in Ocala Funding to lose more than $1.5 billion and Colonial Bank to lose $900 million.
According to court documents and information presented at trial, TBW began running overdrafts in its master bank account at Colonial Bank because of TBW’s inability to meet its operating expenses, which included payroll, servicing payments owed to third-party purchasers of loans and/or mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and other obligations. In or about 2002, Farkas and other co-conspirators engaged in a series of fraudulent actions to cover up the overdrafts, first by sweeping overnight money from one TBW account with excess funds into another, and later through the fictitious “sales” of mortgage loans to Colonial Bank, a fraud scheme the conspirators dubbed “Plan B.” The conspirators accomplished Plan B by selling Colonial Bank mortgage loans that did not exist or that TBW had already committed or sold to other third-party investors. As Plan B evolved, co-conspirators at TBW also caused TBW to engage in sham sales of groups of mortgage loans, known as “pools,” that other entities already owned to Colonial Bank. As a result, false information was entered on Colonial Bank’s books and records, giving the appearance that the bank owned interests in legitimate pools of mortgage loans, when in fact the pools had no value and could not be securitized or sold. Neither Allen nor Ragland participated in the effort to cover up TBW’s overdrafts or Plan B.
Additionally, the co-conspirators at TBW caused TBW to misappropriate more than $1.5 billion in collateral from Ocala Funding. According to court documents, both Allen and Ragland played significant roles in the Ocala Funding misappropriation. The misappropriation caused Colonial Bank and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) to falsely believe that they each had an undivided ownership interest in thousands of the same loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The fraud scheme also included an effort by certain conspirators in the fall of 2008 to obtain $570 million in taxpayer funding through the Capital Purchase Program, a sub-program of the U.S. Treasury Department’s TARP. In connection with the application, Colonial BancGroup submitted financial data and filings that included materially false information related to mortgage loan and securities assets held by Colonial Bank as a result of the fraudulent activity at TBW. Colonial BancGroup never received the TARP funding. According to court documents, Allen played a key role in causing materially false information to be submitted to and received by the government in connection with Colonial Bank’s TARP application. Ragland was not aware of this aspect of the fraud scheme.
In August 2009, the Alabama State Banking Department, Colonial Bank’s regulator, seized the bank and appointed the FDIC as receiver. Colonial BancGroup also filed for bankruptcy in August 2009.
“Instead of upholding his position of power and trust as CEO of TBW, Paul Allen chose the path of fraud and deception in helping facilitate the long-running fraud carried out by TBW and Colonial Bank. Fortunately, the scheme came to a halt when an attempt was made to steal more than a half billion dollars from the TARP,” said cting Special Inspector General Christy Romero of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). “Today’s sentence appropriately recognizes the severity of Allen’s participation in the fraud along with his cooperation in the Government’s investigation.”