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Four Employees of Washington Federal Bank Charged for Bank Fraud
After an investigation that took place in 2017 looking intofraud at Washington Federal Bank, federal regulators ended up shutting down the bank. The president of the bank, John F. Gembara, was found dead via hanging in a customer’s Park Ridge home just days before the bank ceased operations. Now four employees associated with the bank have been charged for helping Robert M. Kowlaski, a Chicago attorney, embezzle at least $29 million. As an important customer of the bank, Kowalski, with the help of his sister, Jan R. Kowalski, was indicted for trying to conceal assets amid Robert’s active bankruptcy case.
According to the federal indictment, the four bank employees who were charged allegedly transferred portions of the $29 million to Robert Kowalski, as well as other prominent customers and many times, did not fill out the proper documentation for the transfers. In addition, these individuals falsified bank records to hide the misappropriation of the money. The federal indictment also reports that two of the four bank employees discussed making changes to an appraisal of one of Robert Kowalski’s properties by way of “scissors and copier.”
Details regarding how the death of the bank’s president took place were not included in the indictment. The hanging death of John F. Gembara took place in Marek Matczuk’s million-dollar home. Matczuk was a friend of Gembara and his home went into foreclosure approximately five months prior to Gembara’s untimely death. While the Cook County medical examiner said Gembara’s death was a suicide, Gembara’s family members believe otherwise. According to some in Gembara’s family, the incident was not a suicide, but rather a murder.
The investigation into this case remains ongoing, according to federal authorities. Also, prosecutors have indicated that there will be many people charged with crimes. The totality of the crimes that were committed at the bank could have resulted in more than $80 million embezzled accompanied by phony documentation covering the cash trail.
What are the Penalties for Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud is a white-collar crime that has hefty penalties as listed under U.S. Code § 1344. Fines and prison time are both attached to a conviction of bank fraud. The amount of money that was stolen along with how the money was stolen will determine how high the fines are and how much prison time will be served. A conviction could penalize a defendant with a fine as high as $1 million and a prison term of up to 30 years. To secure a conviction, prosecutors must make the case proving that the defendant actively and knowingly had intent to willingly engage in the criminal acts.
Speak With a Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The seriousness of a bank fraud conviction will change your life in an instant. Thomas C. Hallock is an experienced and aggressive Illinois federal criminal defense attorney that has helped numerous individuals charged with major federal crimes see the best outcome possible for their case. Thomas C. Hallock will fight to defend your rights and against the federal charges you face.
Call Thomas C. Hallock to schedule your completely free consultation at (312) 487-2441 for local residents or toll-free at (888) 412-3741.
What You Should Do
- Be respectful.
- Calmly record the interaction.
- Ask if you are free to leave. If you do not ask, the officer may think - and the judge may agree - that the interaction is consensual.
- If you are free to leave, go! If you are not free to leave, do not answer and questions before speaking with your attorney.
What You Should Not Do
- Do not physically resist arrest.
- Do not become aggressive or confrontational.
- Do not consent to a search. The Constitution does not apply if you consent.
- Do not answer questions without first speaking with your attorney. Police are allowed to hold you for 48 hours and they may lie to you the entire time.