Floridian Charged in $76 Million Bank Fraud

WASHINGTON (CN) - A Florida man was charged with bank fraud, bribery and other charges in a $76 million scheme involving purchase and sale of delinquent debt from banks that received infusions from the TARP program, the TARP Inspector General's Office said Wednesday.
     Charged in a 33-count indictment was Leonard G. Potillo III, 48, of Longwood, Fla., the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said in a statement.
     He is charged with seven counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of bribing a bank official, and 16 counts of unlawful monetary transactions.
     "Potillo is charged with fraud and bribing an officer at TARP recipient U.S. Bank to the tune of $1 million in exchange for inside information to benefit his debt collections agency," TARP Special Inspector General Christy Romero said in a statement Wednesday.
     Romero added: "Potillo and his company allegedly amassed $76 million in ill-gotten profits after buying debt portfolios from TARP banks and falsifying the quality of the debt to flip the debt to other collections agencies. Potillo purportedly went on a spending spree, buying luxury vehicles including an Aston Martin, Maserati, Ferrari, and Jaguar, as well as real estate including multiple properties in Florida and property in Montreal, Canada, and in Edinburgh, Scotland, all of which the United States intends to forfeit as proceeds of his alleged crimes. The TARP bailout was designed to stabilize the nation's banks at a time of crisis, not as an opportunity to fund the lavish lifestyles of those committing crimes."
     Potillo is owner-manager of United Credit Recovery, in Seminole County. He is accused of bribing a U.S. Bank officer with more than $1 million for inside information about the bank's auction of debt portfolios, whose quality Potillo allegedly misrepresented when he resold them.
     If convicted, Potillo faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud charge, up to 30 years for each bribery charge, and up to 10 years for each money laundering charge.