A Virginia resident became the second person sentenced in a massive $41-million bank fraud scam that resulted in the failure of the Bank of the Commonwealth in Norfolk, Va.
George P. Hranowskyj of Chesapeake, Va., received a 14-year sentence for his role in a scheme that involved bank insiders and his business partner, Eric H. Menden, who recently received an 11-year sentence for his own role in the conspiracy.
Authorities say Hranowskyj and Menden began conspiring with bank insiders in 2008 to acquire underperforming real estate-owned properties. The bank employees cooperating with Menden would advance loan proceeds so Menden and his business partner could make the purchases. The bank later wrote those loans off as significant losses.
The pair also agreed to bid on bank-owned properties at prices that would allow the bank to pay off the underlying loans. Romero says bank insiders would essentially fund the loans to Menden and his partner, so they could then make the fraudulent transactions.
The Bank of the Commonwealth eventually failed unveiling the underlying fraud and the charges.
Christy Romero, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, announced the sentence, which concluded a massive investigation involving her agency as well as the FBI and Justice Department.
"Hranowskyj treated this bank like he owned it, calling himself ‘Big Daddy’ to bank employees, overdrawing his accounts by $600,000, and demanding that the bank ‘lower his rates ASAP’ and cash his employees’ paychecks even though his account was in the red," said Christy Romero, special inspector general for TARP (SIGTARP).
Romero claims that Hranowskyj threatened the bank, saying he would no longer participate in a major scam that he and his business partner were running with bank insiders.
Hranowskyj pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.