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Former One Bank SVP Gary Rickenbach Indicted on Federal Bank Fraud Charges

3 min read

An indictment charging Gary Alan Rickenbach, a former senior vice president at troubled One Bank & Trust of Little Rock, with multiple counts of bank fraud was unsealed Wednesday, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer. 

The press release didn’t say exactly how many counts are included in the indictment nor when the indictment was handed down by a grand jury, and the indictment was not yet available from the federal court system’s online docket.

The release said Rickenbach, 56, had been charged with “one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, misapplication of bank monies, making false entries to deceive the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., obstructing an OCC examination and money laundering.”

The conspiracy charge seems to be related to a $1.5 million loan that has already resulted in federal bank fraud charges against the Florida borrower, Alberto Solaroli. That loan was explored in a detailed article by Arkansas Business in September.

The other charges are related to One Bank’s successful application for $17.3 million in TARP funding from the U.S. Treasury.

“Rather than deal with the reality of having made a $1.5 million bad loan that couldn’t be collected, Rickenbach … and others, in 2009, allegedly attempted to hide the loss from non-bank board members and federal regulators in order to conceal the bank’s true financial condition, and Rickenbach looked to TARP money to fund his fraud,” Christy Romero with SIGTARP, the special inspector general for TARP, said in the release.

“Later, when bank executives worried that the bank’s initial October 2008 request for $10 million in taxpayer TARP funds wouldn’t be enough to improve the bank’s capital position they increased their request to $17.3 million, which the bank received in June 2009,” Romero continued.

“Defrauding the federal government and taxpayers out of their hard-earned TARP investments is criminal, morally bankrupt, and won’t be tolerated and SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners will aggressively investigate all allegations of fraud related to TARP and bring perpetrators to justice.”

Rickenbach was SVP at One Bank until February 2013, having been placed on administrative leave the previous month. That’s when CEO Jerry Pavlas was brought in to fill the void created when the OCC, the national bank’s chief regulator, forced the bank’s board of directors to remove owner Layton “Scooter” Stuart from all official roles in the fall of 2012. Stuart was under investigation by federal agents when he died in March 2013

Since then, Solaroli has been indicted, as has Matthew Sweet, a former One Bank vice president accused of using cashier’s checks and $76,000 of the bank’s money to pay his personal credit card bills. Sweet is scheduled for trial starting June 23 before U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes, and Solaroli’s trial is scheduled to start Aug. 11 before U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller.

Another former One Bank executive, Kelly Harbert, is serving a 30-month sentence at Carswell federal prison near Fort Worth, Texas, after pleading guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and using someone else’s Social Security number to make fraudulent loans for her own benefit. Her sentence will be up in December.

Finally, Andrew Melton, who was hired by Stuart as a bank consultant in the summer of 2012, was indicted on 12 counts of mail fraud in an unrelated case in February 2013 and new charges of employment tax fraud were handed down on Wednesday. Melton’s trial was scheduled to start on Tuesday but was recently rescheduled for Oct. 7 before U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson.

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