A former employee at an Ohio branch of U.S. Bancorp (USB) pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he accepted $24,000 in kickbacks from debt collectors in exchange for giving them business.

Wilbur Tate was an assistant vice president at the bank in charge of outsourcing delinquent accounts to collections agencies. In August 2008, he allegedly began accepting bribes from executives at the now-defunct Oxford Collection Agency, according to a Monday press release from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was involved in the case because U.S. Bancorp received Tarp funds.

Oxford executives launched the scheme by first sending Tate boxes of expensive cigars, according to prosecutors and, later, empty cigar boxes stuffed with monthly cash payments of between $2,500 and $5,000, according to prosecutors.

Tate pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank bribery and faces up to five years in prison. His sentencing in a U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn., is scheduled for Feb. 18.

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