ATLANTA — A Stockbridge banker was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison Thursday, for his role in a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to defraud the First City Bank of Stockbridge.
Mark A. Conner, the bank’s former president, was sentenced during an appearance before U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones, in the Northern District Court of Georgia.
Conner was part of a conspiracy to defraud the bank, and hid assets in the Cayman Islands and lied about it in his personal bankruptcy case, according to federal officials.
Jones sentenced Conner, 46, to 12 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. The judge banned Conner from the banking industry for life, and ordered him “to pay restitution in the amount of $19.5 million to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and victim banks.”
Conner formerly of Canton, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla., also consented to forfeit $7 million. He agreed to forfeit $1.7 million in cash and interests in multiple pieces of property in Georgia and Virginia, added federal officials.
Conner was initially indicted March 16, 2011, on 12 counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise, along with FirstCity Bank’s former top loan officer, Clayton A. Coe.
Coe, of McDonough, pleaded guilty June 26, 2012, and is awaiting sentencing. FirstCity Bank’s former top lawyer, Robert E. Maloney, Jr., was added as a defendant on June 22, 2011. Maloney, also of McDonough, is scheduled for trial on Jan. 15, 2013.
“Our state, which leads the nation in bank failures, is still recovering from a banking crisis of epic proportions,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “These failures have a ripple effect in every workplace and household in the state. This sentence should serve as a warning that regardless of your position, or the complexity of your scheme, bank officers and directors who place FDIC-insured funds at risk through fraud, and self-dealing, will be brought to justice.”
On Oct. 21, 2011, Conner pleaded guilty to one count of perjury, and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Conner has been in federal custody since being arrested by federal agents at Miami International Airport on March 20, 2011, upon his arrival in Miami, from the Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies, continued federal officials.
Conner served in a variety of top positions at FirstCity Bank between 2004 and 2009, including Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, as a member of the bank’s loan committee, as president, and later as acting Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. While serving in these positions, Conner and his co-conspirators conspired to defraud FirstCity Bank’s loan committee and Board of Directors into approving multiple multi-million dollar commercial loans to borrowers who, unbeknownst to FirstCity Bank, were actually purchasing property owned by Conner, or his co-conspirators personally, according to Yates.
“The public is absolutely demanding that individuals such as Mr. Conner, who abused his position as a bank executive for personal gain, be held accountable for their criminal actions,” said Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta field office. “With today’s lengthy prison sentence, Mr. Conner is indeed being held accountable. The FBI will continue to provide investigative resources and work with our law-enforcement partners in identifying, investigating, and presenting for prosecution such individuals who engage in such large-scale fraud schemes that target the banking industry.”
Conner and his co-conspirators misrepresented the loans and falsified documents and information presented to the loan committee and the board of directors. Conner and his co-conspirators caused at least 10 other federally insured banks to invest in, or “participate in” the fraudulent loans based on these and other fraudulent misrepresentations, shifting all or part of the risk of default to the other banks. Conner alone reaped almost $7 million in proceeds from the loans alleged in the indictment, added federal officials.