Albert Solaroli, the Florida man indicted in 2013 for bank fraud related to a $1.5 million loan from Little Rock's One Bank & Trust, has pleaded guilty to money laundering in federal court.
In a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock, Solaroli pleaded guilty on Friday to laundering $120,000 of the loan in exchange for having the bank fraud charge dismissed. His plea was heard by U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller.
"Deceiving banks through fraudulent pretenses ends up hurting our entire banking industry," U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer said in a news release. "We are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who take advantage of the good will of bank depositors. When people try to steal from banks by deceiving banking officers all banking customers suffer, and our faith in the banking industry is undermined. Those who try to steal from our community’s banks with lies rather than force will be prosecuted."
Solaroli claimed his net worth was almost $170 million when he received the line of credit from One Bank in April 2007, a number that he later admitted was false.
Although the charge filed by federal prosecutors refers to the $1.5 million that Solaroli received and didn't repay, his plea agreement holds him responsible for only $120,000, both for sentencing purposes and in restitution.
The terms of his plea deal suggest a guideline sentence of 12-18 months — short enough that a judge might sentence him to probation instead of prison. Had he been held responsible for the full $1.5 million he received from One Bank, the guideline sentence would be 37-46 months.
Solaroli was represented by Omar Greene of Little Rock.
No sentencing date has been set.
Meanwhile, four former executives of One Bank are awaiting trial on charges related to the Solaroli loan. One of them, former EVP Gary Rickenbach, allegedly invested in Solaroli's company weeks before approving the $1.5 million line of credit. When the loan immediately went bad, prosecutors say Rickenbach, Michael Heald, Tom Whitehead and Brad Paul helped hide the loan problem from regulators.