General counsel of failed First NBC pleads guilty to bank fraud

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Gregory St. Angelo, 54, former general counsel of First NBC Bank, has pleaded guilty to bank fraud, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Between 2006 and 2017, St. Angelo and two senior executives of First NBC Bank, which failed in April of 2017, provided “materially false and fraudulent” personal financial and other documents in connection with loans to St. Angelo and businesses he owned or controlled, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release Tuesday. The two executives and others issued new loans to cover older loans and overdrafts that St. Angelo could not repay, and they extended the maturity date of older loans to avoid reporting them as nonperforming or losses to the bank, the release said.

The two executives and others also funded fraudulent tax credit investments to help funnel money to St. Angelo, the release said. They falsified documents to justify the diversion of bank funds, making it appear as payments for ownership interests in entities supposedly owned by St. Angelo, the release said.

The other executives were not named in the release.

St. Angelo was general counsel at First NBC Bank from its inception in 2006 to the fall of 2016. The fall of the $3.3 billion-asset bank cost the Deposit Insurance Fund $826.9 million, making it the most expensive bank failure since 2010, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s website. Whitney Bank in Gulfport, Miss., acquired First NBC Bank’s transactional deposits, its branches and $1 billion in assets.

Before it was closed by the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions, First NBC Bank was already a troubled institution. It underwent financial restatements, management review and regulatory scrutiny of its tax credit business as well as problem-loan identification processes.

By April 28, 2017, First NBC Bank had advanced $46 million to St. Angelo and his related companies, the release said. St. Angelo also received an additional $9.6 million in false tax credit investment money from the bank, the release said.

The sentencing date for St. Angelo is Oct. 3. He could face up to 30 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.

St. Angelo could not immediately be reached for comment. His plea was entered on June 28.

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