Former Park Avenue Bank President Charles Antonucci, the first person to be charged with fraud against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for trying to scam $11 million from the U.S. government’s bailout plan.
Prosecutors accused Antonucci, 64, of engaging in a scheme to fraudulently obtain the TARP funds by misleading regulators about Park Avenue Bank’s capitalization. He claimed to have invested $6.5 million in the privately-held bank out of his own pocket when he had actually borrowed the money himself from the bank through a complex round-trip loan transaction.
Ultimately, Park Avenue’s application for an $11,252,480 investment from TARP was denied.
Antonucci, who pleaded guilty in 2010, faced up to 135 years in prison, but prosecutors asked for a “significant downward departure” because he cooperated in the investigation into financial crimes at the bank and a $37.5 million fraud that ruined an Oklahoma insurance company.
“Even though he cooperated, he committed enormous crimes, crimes that hurt taxpayers,” U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said at the sentencing hearing Thursday. “It isn’t enough just to say that ‘I’ve been caught, I cooperated, and all is right with the world.’”
“And even today, I have not heard an excuse or an explanation for this serious conduct,” she added. The only one that comes to mind is greed.”
The judge also ordered Antonucci to pay $54.6 million in restitution.
One of the critical elements of the TARP qualification process was the capital position of the applicant bank. According to prosecutors, Antonucci, Kentucky businessman Wilbur Huff and Park Avenue Senior Vice President Matthew Morris engaged in deceptive round-trip loan transactions to prevent the bank from being designated as undercapitalized by regulators.
Park Avenue Bank had $520 million in assets when in March 2010 the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp took it into receivership. Antonucci was arrested three days later.
Huff was sentenced in June to 12 years in prison while Morris was sentenced earlier this week to one year behind bars.