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Mentor Man Admits to Giving Fraudulent Loans that Caused Credit Union Collapse

Anthony Raguz, the former chief operating officer of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union, pleaded guilty bank fraud, money laundering and bank bribery

Anthony Raguz – the Mentor man who served as chief operating officer of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union in Eastlake – pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and bank bribery today in federal court.

His actions helped cause , federal law enforcement officials said today.

Raguz, 52, issued more than 1,000 fraudulent loans totaling more than $70 million to more 300 account holders at St. Paul from 2000 to April 2010, according to court documents. He was also accused of accepting more than $1 million worth of bribes, kickbacks and gifts in exchange for the fraudulent loans.

He is one of 16 people who have been charged in U.S. District Court for their roles in the credit union collapse. Raguz is scheduled to be sentenced January 4.

Steven Dettelbach, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said the actions of Raguz and his co-defendants caused the credit union to go into conservatorship and then liquidate.

The liquidation made the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund lose $170 million, making it one of the worst credit union failures in history.

“People ought to know that senior bank officials are being held accountable,” Dettelbach said in a statement from his office. “Not every bank failure over the last five years is the result of criminal conduct, but when we find criminal conduct, we are absolutely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting those offenses.”

Raguz oversaw the issuing of loans to hundreds of account holders with little or no assets, income or employment history, according to court documents. He also oversaw scores of “loan resets” in which older loans were fraudulently repaid with new loans in the names of false nominees, including “Auto Truck Company” and “B.S. Construction,” according to court documents.

The money laundering counts stem from Raguz issuing checks totaling $371,800 drawn on his St. Paul account payable to The Vanguard Group, according to the indictment that was made against him.

The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS and Eastlake Police Department and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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