The office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) announced Monday that a former executive at U.S. Bank has pleaded guilty to bribery charges for accepting payment in exchange for steering business to a specific debt collection agency.
It is the latest action in the long-running Oxford Collection Agency/Pinto family case. Patrick Pinto, a former Oxford VP, was sentenced in September.
Oxford Collection Agency was a private debt collection agency with offices in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Between 2007 and 2011, Oxford Collection Agency executives engaged in a multi-year scheme to defraud its lender, investors, and clients. Several Oxford executives, including at least three members of the controlling Pinto family, have been already been sentenced.
The investigation also revealed that Oxford Collection Agency was actively involved in bribing bank officials.
Wilbur Tate, III, an assistant vice president at U.S. Bank in Ohio from January 2004 through February 2011, was in charge of outsourcing collection accounts to collection agencies, including Oxford. Beginning in approximately August 2008 and continuing for more than two years, Oxford executives engaged in a bribery scheme with Tate in order to obtain and retain the business of U.S. Bank. As part of the scheme, Oxford executives initially provided Tate with boxes of expensive cigars and subsequently sent Tate monthly cash payments of between $2,500 and $5,000, which were hidden in cigar boxes and mailed to Tate’s residence in Mason, Ohio.
U.S. Bank received funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasury Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), triggering SIGTARP’s involvement in the case, which was also investigated by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
“With today’s guilty plea, Tate, an officer at TARP recipient U.S. Bank, admitted to taking $24,000 in kickbacks from debt collectors at Oxford Collection Agency in exchange for U.S. Bank’s collections business,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP). “While the country struggled through the financial crisis, rather than collect the debts of TARP banks, executives at Oxford ripped-off TARP banks in a $12 million debt fraud scheme, and Tate shared in their spoils.”
Tate was arrested on February 27, 2013. Last Friday, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank bribery, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for February 18, 2014.