While major banksters are still out operating and getting board of director positions, one small mortgage company executive faces 30 years for floating checks to keep his business afloat.

St. Louis Today has the story

Mark Avalos, who had been controller for The Mortgage Store Inc., has pleaded guilty in federal court here of bank fraud in a case related to illicit practices to try to keep the failing enterprise in business, prosecutors said Thursday.

Sentencing for Avalos, 49, St. Peters, is set for March 16 before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey. Officials said Avalos could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $1 million, although he would be expected to receive much less, based on sentencing guidelines and on court documents that reflect his cooperation with investigators.

Officials said TMS, a mortgage broker with main offices in Maryland Heights and Wentzville, employed hundreds of people in four states. It began operating at a deficit in 2008, court documents say, so Avalos and others "floated" insufficient-funds checks between accounts for TMS and another company to conceal the true balances at Enterprise Bank in Clayton and at the First Bank of the Lake, in Osage Beach, Mo.

TMS had a negative balance of about $850,000 in mid-2008, when the banks stopped accepting the checks, officials said. TMS then went out of business.

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