Guilty pleas reached in $10 million bank fraud

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Dec 27, 2011

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has announced a guilty plea in a bank fraud and bank bribery scheme.

Several banks were defrauded of at least $10 million after a man and his compatriots obtained commercial loans and lines of credit using false and fraudulent documents.

Christopher Cavounis 31, of Fresh Meadows, N.Y. -- who was previously charged in a superseding indictment with Jagdesh Cooma, 27, also of Fresh Meadows, and Thomas Nuccio, 31, of Promfret, Conn. -- allegedly submitted loan applications in the names of shell companies with no assets and straw owners. They used fraudulent documents they created to dupe the banks into believing those entities were real.

Bribes totaling over $135,000 were also paid to a Citibank employee to obtain $2.45 million worth of loans. The transactions occurred from 2009 to November 2010, during which time at least 16 commercial loans and/or lines of credit were fraudulently obtained.

Cavounis and the others received at least $10 million from eight different lenders - Capital One Bank, N.A.; Citibank, N.A.; First Republic Bank; Herald National Bank; New York Commercial Bank; Signature Bank; Sovereign Bank; and TD Bank, N.A. All of these loans are presently in default.

Straw borrowers were recruited who provided personal identifying information to the defendants in exchange for future payment.

The defendants created fraudulent tax returns, identification documents, bank and other financial statements. These documents were purported to accurately reflect the personal and financial information of each straw owner, and/or corresponding company. The documents were then sent to the lenders in support of the loan applications.

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