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U.S. Attorney's Office: Mentor Man Issued Fraudulent Loans, Helped Cause Credit Union Collapse

Anthony Raguz of Mentor faces six counts in federal court after he is accused of issuing more than 1,000 fraudulent loans

A Mentor man is accused of being in the middle of a fraud case that led to one of the largest credit union collapses in the history of the country.

Anthony Raguz, 51, of Mentor, was the chief operating officer of St. Paul Federal Credit Union in Eastlake. While COO, he issued more than 1,000 fraudulent loans, which were worth more than $70 million, to more than 300 account holders at St. Paul's from 2000 to April 2010, according to the United States Attorney's Office.

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, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"This was major fraud perpetrated against the shareholders, including by people whose job was to protect the shareholders' interests," Dettelbach said in a statement. "It constitutes self-dealing on the most outrageous scale."

Raguz is charged with bank fraud, bank bribery and four counts of money laundering in federal court.

In the indictment against him, Raguz is also accused of accepting more than $500,000 in bribes, gifts and kickbacks from the St. Paul customers to whom he gave fraudulent loans. The indictment also says that Raguz laundered $371,800 from his St. Paul account to The Vanguard Group.

Eight other people face charges of bank fraud, bank bribery, money laundering or some combination thereof in this case. They are:

  • Koljo Nikolovski, 48, of Eastlake
  • Rose Anne Nikolovski, 48, of Eastlake
  • Marko Nikoli, 33, of Eastlake
  • John Cendol Jr., 48, of Kirtland
  • Ruth Cendol, 55, of Kirtland
  • Daniel Kocher, 72, of Euclid
  • Edward Watral, 37, of Creston
  • Jennifer Cerjan, 33, of Orrville

The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS and Eastlake Police Department.

"The St. Paul Federal Credit Union collapse resulted in one of the largest credit union failures ever investigated in U.S. history," said Stephen Anthony, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Cleveland office. "This complex, large-scale investigation transcended international borders and will continue until all those involved are brought to justice."

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