Former loan officer pleads guilty to bank fraud

Thursday, February 21, 2008 | 11:26 p.m. CST; updated 2:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — A former loan officer of the Boone National Savings and Loan Association pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding the association resulting in a loss of more than $740,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.

Brian R. Nutter, 35, of Columbia conspired to defraud the association with Columbia businessman John T. Sobaski, 43, said Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The pair defrauded the association by creating loans in the names of fictitious people and businesses and by forging signatures of guarantors, Ledford said.

Nutter worked at Boone County National Bank from March 1998 to May 2002, according to the indictment. In 2000, Nutter granted Sobaski loans of $20,000 and $45,000 for Sobaski’s business, Columbia-based Big Cedar Custom Design and Fabrication. While still working for the bank, Nutter also opened a loan to a fictitious person, Lee Phillips.

In 2002, Nutter accepted a job as a loan officer and vice president of Boone National Savings and Loan. While at the company he created three loans using the fake name of Lee Johnson, an employee of a fake business called the Diamond Lift Company.

According to the indictment, all of these loans were used to pay off Sobaski’s business loan.

Sobaski pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy on Sept. 21. Sobaski was sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $326,318.

“(The fraud) involved a series of loans in a couple of different financial institutions, which is unusual,” Ledford said. “(Sobaski and Nutter) began making fraudulent loans in one institution to the next.”

Ledford said a sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled for Nutter. He said the U.S. Probation Office will conduct a investigation and file a report, which will include a sentencing range.

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