LawFuel – Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Miami Field Division, announced that defendant Ricardo Figueredo, a former employee of Bank of America, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck to bank fraud arising from a scheme through which Figueredo misappropriated more than $29 million in funds from customer accounts. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 14, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Huck.
According to a written statement of facts submitted to the Court in conjunction with today’s hearing, the defendant’s scheme dated back to the mid-1990s. At the start of the scheme, the defendant was employed by Barnett Bank. The defendant’s scheme allegedly continued as Barnett Bank merged into NationsBank in 1998 and then into Bank of America later the same year, and did not conclude until May 2, 2008. The defendant’s responsibilities at the various banks included servicing customers who resided outside of the U.S. but who maintained accounts in South Florida.
In the written statement of facts, the defendant admitted that over the course of the scheme he embezzled approximately $29,591,540 from the accounts of the different victim customers. The defendant targeted victim customers who resided outside of the U.S. and who held accounts with large deposits, generally exceeding $100,000. A number of the victim customers had deposits of more than $1 million. The defendant gained the trust of the victim customers by purporting to provide attentive service and, in some circumstances, by purporting to secure interest rates that were substantially higher than generally available rates of return.
To execute the scheme, the defendant prompted the victim customers to take steps that limited their ability to monitor account activity and thus enabled the defendant to misappropriate funds from the victims’ accounts, while minimizing the possibility that either the victims or bank officials would learn of his misappropriations. For instance, the defendant encouraged victim customers to conduct all of their banking business with him. The defendant also told one victim customer that his account was access-restricted and that he was the only bank officer authorized to assist them. In other cases, the defendant encouraged victim customers to have their account statements mailed to him by convincing them that mail service in their home countries was not secure and that their account statements could be easily stolen. In addition, the defendant discouraged victim customers from electronically monitoring their account activity by telling them that on-line banking was not secure. Lastly, the defendant encouraged the victim customers to provide the bank with the defendant’s name and cell phone number as the person to contact in case issues arose with their accounts.
In the written statement of facts, the defendant admitted to misappropriating approximately $23 million, including more than $11 million in customer funds for personal investments in Guatemala, Spain, and elsewhere. The defendant also misappropriated more than $1 million in customer funds to support his lavish lifestyle. Lastly, to avoid detection, the defendant misappropriated more than $11 million from certain customers, and used this money to make periodic interest payments owed to other customers or to meet requests from customers to withdraw funds from their accounts. When victims requested receipts or other account records, the defendant created fraudulent records to conceal his criminal activity. In order to further conceal his misappropriation of customer funds, the defendant directed those funds into shell and nominee accounts that the defendant controlled, rather than into accounts that were readily traceable to him.
After the defendant entered his guilty plea, Judge Huck revoked the defendant’s bond and ordered that the defendant be taken into custody.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service. Mr. Acosta also extended his gratitude to Bank of America for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation of this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.