The last defendant in a long-running criminal investigation of mortgage fraud at the defunct Pierce Commercial Bank was sentenced today to home detention, community service, supervised release and more than $131,000 in restitution.
Ben Leske, 40, of Puyallup, worked as a loan officer for PC Bank Home Loans, a division of the Tacoma-based bank, between 2005 and 2008. He pleaded guilty in May 2017 to making false statements on loan applications.
“This defendant and 14 other well-paid bank employees from loan officers to bank vice presidents forged documents and made false statements to close loans they knew were not sound,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The result was the collapse of Pierce Commercial Bank and the expenditure of nearly $7 million of taxpayer funds to address the financial mess these defendants left behind.”
More than half of the loans involved failed, causing an estimated loss of more than $10 million to the bank, its secondary investors and HUD/FHA.
“Ringleader Shawn Portmann, who was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his crimes, created a culture at PC Bank Home Loans, where all loans applications were expected to (be) approved, regardless of the applier’s ability to repay,” explained Special Investigator General Christy Goldsmith Romero of the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
“As a result, (it) greatly expanded the residential mortgage lending operations of Pierce Commercial Bank prior to the financial crisis from no more than $3.9 million a month to nearly $500 million a year,” Romero added.
Federal Judge Benjamin H. Settle sentenced Leske to 30 days of home detention, 100 hours of community service, two years of supervised release and the order to make restitution.
You can read more details on this extended case later today at the U.S. Attorney’s Office website.