The former chief executive of a failed Florida community bank has been sentenced to six years in prison for lying to regulators about the bank's condition.
Jerry Williams, who headed Orion Bank in Naples for roughly two decades, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with two other executives and one borrower to mislead its state and federal examiners about its capital levels in the months before it failed in November 2009.
Orion was one of the nation's best-performing banks for years largely due to its pristine credit quality. In 2006, American Banker named Williams as one of its three Community Bankers of the Year.
The bank's fortunes began to turn two years later, however, when the Florida real estate market crashed. Orion became critically undercapitalized after suffering steep losses on construction loans and was ultimately taken over by Iberiabank (IBKC) of Lafayette, La.
The South Florida Business Journal reported that Williams admitted to ordering bank executives to make straw loans on behalf of a customer who then used some of the proceeds to invest in the bank. Williams failed disclose the transactions — which are illegal — to its regulators.
The customer, Francesco Mileto, and the two bank officers were previously sentenced to prison terms for their roles in the scheme. Mileto was also ordered to pay nearly $63 million in restitution to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
In addition to the prison term Williams is also barred from having any involvement in the banking industry in the future, the South Florida Business Journal reported Wednesday.