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Three plead guilty in Orion Bank fraud case

May 2, 2011


Three men pleaded guilty today in federal court to their involvement in the fraud case against Jerry Williams, the Naples-based president of defunct Orion Bank.

All three had previously signed plea agreements but had to appear before judges to make sure they really intended to plead guilty to the charges.

The three are:

•Francesco Mileto, 41, the Tamarac businessman who said today that in 2009 he pretended to buy stock and helped the failing bank hide bad loans — both to make Orion seem to federal and state regulators that it was in good shape.

•Angel Guerzon, 42, a bank vice president who worked in Orion’s Palm Beach Gardens office. He acknowledged that he helped get two bank loans approved for a total of $80 million even though he knew the information provided to back them was false.

•Bank vice president Thomas Hebble, who worked in Naples and said he did similar things as a bank officer: helping the bank to raise purchases of its stock and inserting false documents into loan files to fool regulators into thinking all was well.

Unlike Mileto, he specifically acknowledged — under questioning from Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Waid — that he worked with Williams and Guerzon to accomplish those tasks.

All three pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. Mileto faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine while the other two could get as much as five years and $250,000.

They were charged separately from Williams, who was indicted March 31 for 13 counts of conspiracy, misapplication of bank funds, making false entries, making false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

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