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Rickenbach To Offer Low Risk Status for No Prison at Wednesday Sentencing

2 min read

His testimony failed to convict his former co-workers, but Gary Rickenbach is still hoping to avoid prison time for his admitted role in a fraudulent loan made by One Bank & Trust when he was its senior executive vice president.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock.

Specifically, Rickenbach pleaded guilty in July to a much reduced charge: misprision of a felony — that is, failing to report the manipulation of the bank’s quarterly call report to disguise a $1.5 million loan default back in 2007.

Rickenbach had faced seven counts ranging from conspiracy and money laundering to bank fraud in a case that the special inspector general for the TARP program described as TARP fraud.

He offered to plead guilty to misprision, and to testify against former colleagues Mike Heald and Brad Paul, if he could be guaranteed a probation-only sentence. Judge Baker rejected that offer and instead accepted a plea agreement that suggests a prison sentence of 12-18 months under federal sentencing guidelines.

But the guidelines are just that, so last week Rickenbach’s defense attorney, William O. “Bill” James Jr. of Little Rock, filed a memorandum setting out reasons that Rickenbach shouldn’t go to prison — primarily the fact that he has no criminal history and presents a very low risk of future criminal activity.

“[T]he fact that Gary Rickenbach is now a felon and will probably lose his CPA license, means that a sentence of Probation is more than sufficient to promote respect for the law and will certainly be experienced as punishment by Gary Rickenbach, and anyone that knows him or his family, or who later learned of what happened to him, will agree,” James wrote.

He also noted that Rickenbach “can never again work in a bank insured by the FDIC.”

(With his future uncertain, Rickenbach did persuade Baker to give him back his passport long enough to visit his daughter in London and to take a side trip to Scotland during the week of Thanksgiving. He was required to surrender his passport upon his return.)

Heald and Paul, you may recall, refused plea deals and were acquitted on Halloween. Their three-week trial included testimony by Rickenbach and former One Bank CFO Tom Whitehead, who got charges against him dropped completely in exchange for his testimony against the others.

Rickenbach’s co-defendants, then, all escaped conviction. But the borrower of the ill-fated $1.5 million, a Canadian resident of Florida named Alberto Solaroli, pleaded guilty to money laundering and received a one-year prison sentence.

The federal Bureau of Prisons lists Solaroli as a current guest of a contract correctional institution in Pennsylvania.

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