Central Florida banker facing fraud charges

During the real estate boom in Central Florida, it was not uncommon to find bankers, real estate agents and mortgage brokers engaged in questionable business practices. Indeed, the state of the market was such that those in the real estate industry were willing to cut corners in order to move as quickly and to make as much of a profit as possible. Unfortunately, in some cases, their efforts may have constituted bank fraud, a federal crime that carries the possibility of up to 30 years in prison and $1,000,000 in fines upon conviction.

Recently, federal prosecutors announced that they were moving forward with the prosecution of Braden S. Koegel, a former bank executive from Orlando. Prosecutors allege that Koegel filed a fraudulent mortgage application with Bank of America while he was vice president of R-G Crown bank, which has since closed its doors. As part of his plan, Kroegel allegedly named a straw buyer - a fake buyer he paid $5,000 and whose proof of income and earnings he falsified - as the applicant on a $400,000 mortgage. Koegel pocketed the money from the transaction, which prosecutors say involved a parcel of land he owned in North Carolina. According to federal law enforcement agents, the alleged fraud occurred in 2006, when Koegel was his bank's chief residential lending officer, although it does not appear that R-G Crown was in any way involved with the incident.

Prosecutors have said that they plan to seek recovery not only of the funds taken from Bank of America, but also of the land involved in the sale. It is not clear why prosecutors are just now bringing these charges against Koegel, seven years after the fraud allegedly occurred.

In 2006, as the real estate bubble began to collapse, R-G Crown bank was sanctioned by federal regulators for risky practices in its residential lending department. The bank, which was founded by Braden Koegel's father, was eventually purchased by Fifth Third Bank in 2007.

Koegel has yet to respond publicly to the charges against him, but many in the community are shocked by the allegations. Some have pointed out that the technique Koegel employed in this transaction, which required a straw buyer, was widely used in Florida during the bubble years of 2003 to 2006.

If you are being investigated for bank fraud or any other white collar crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, who can answer your questions and explain your rights.