One Bank's Scooter Stuart Thought He Knew Who Blew the Whistle

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 12:00 am  

Before he died on March 26, Layton “Scooter” Stuart told Arkansas Business that he thought he knew who had stirred up trouble for him with the chief federal regulators of his One Bank & Trust: Michael Heald and Tom Ricciardone.

In August 2011, Stuart had fired Heald as One Bank’s executive vice president and chief operating officer and terminated the bank’s business relationship with Thinc Marketing Group, where Ricciardone was president.

According to Stuart, Heald told him: “I know where every skeleton is, and we’ll ruin your lives.”

After the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency forced the board of directors to oust Stuart from the bank last Sept. 28, Stuart said he received a text message from Ricciardone that started with “I told you we would get you” and ended with a particularly nasty expletive.

Federal agents have since revealed that three anonymous notes were sent to the OCC’s Little Rock field office, the first received on March 14, 2012. The three communications concerned questionable bank loans and fund transfers linked with two Little Rock houses owned by Stuart’s son and daughter.

Those notes prompted OCC scrutiny that exploded into a sweeping forensic audit of One Bank and a multi-agency criminal investigation led by the Internal Revenue Service.

No criminal charges have been made against anyone in connection with the One Bank investigation.

Heald didn’t return messages seeking comment, and Ricciardone declined comment. There is no evidence besides Stuart’s suspicions to link the two to the anonymous notes.

If they did alert the OCC, their actions might be filed in a drawer labeled: Law of unintended consequences.

Heald and Ricciardone were drawn deeply into a chain reaction of terminations and investigations when the scope of federal curiosity extended far beyond Stuart’s alleged self-dealing with One Bank funds to finance his children’s homes. Though unnamed, the two appear to be part of the narrative in the U.S. Attorney’s forfeiture complaint filed July 12 against Stuart’s estate.

Sources familiar with the investigation identify Heald as “former Employee C” in the complaint. Those same sources identify Ricciardone as “the owner of the marketing company” that allegedly overbilled One Bank by $1 million between January 2009 and August 2011.

According to the forfeiture complaint, “the owner of the marketing company eventually agreed to pay $550,000 restitution to the bank, and this agreement also ended the marketing company’s business relationship with the bank.”



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