The former CEO of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker (TBW), was sentenced today to 40 months in prison for his role in a more than $2.9 billion fraud scheme that contributed to the failure of TBW, at one time one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the United States.
Paul Allen was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Allen, 55, 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. Co-conspirator Sean Ragland, a former senior financial analyst at TBW who reported to Allen, was also sentenced today by Judge Brinkema 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.”
“Paul Allen was a well-respected mortgage executive hired by Lee Farkas to be TBW’s chief executive officer. Working from Oakton, Va., Mr. Allen led Ocala Funding, a TBW multi-billion dollar lending facility that was used to defraud investors of more than $1 billion,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Mr. Allen’s sentence reflects his ultimate cooperation with this investigation, but also sends the message that unless executives expose and stop fraud when they first learn of it, they will be punished.”
Ragland, 37, of San Antonio, 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 Bentley 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 on June 27, 2011. The Securities and 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 3 months in prison.
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 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.