February 2, 2018
By Bob Coleman
Editor, Fraud Friday
Fraud Friday — Nik Patel’s Business Partner, Timothy Fisher Sentencing Hearing Moved to March, Remains Free on Bail
The one Nik Patel business partner who didn’t attempt to flee to Ecuador with him was due to be sentenced this week for his one count guilty plea for money laundering. That has now been postponed three weeks after Nik’s March 6th sentencing hearing.
Nik Patel and Timothy Fisher share the same judge and it appears the attorneys want to see how much time Nik will get before Mr. Fisher learns his fate.
Follows is more background on the case from Timothy’s guilty plea in November 2016
THE COURT is Federal Judge Charles Kocoras in Chicago
MR. KING represents the US Attorney
MR. GREENFIELD is Tim’s attorney
THE DEFENDANT is TImothy Fisher
THE COURT: Let me ask you this. I mean, these numbers are fairly large, almost to the point of being staggering. And you say First Farmers did not have any assets; and, yet, they are getting money in the millions for lending purposes, I guess, or whatever. Does not anybody audit anybody around here or around there? I do not understand how the size of funds are being transferred with nothing behind them. Was there some in between Pennant Management and First Farmers Financial or, what? Where is the trust generated from?
MR. KING: The trust is generated from —
THE COURT: “Trust” in the general sense, not in the institutional sense.
MR. KING: In the general sense, Pennant is dealing with First Farmers and believing what they are getting is loans guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the United States. So, their motivation to look deeply beyond the guarantee isn’t as high as it would be if they were buying unguaranteed or speculative investments. The problem is the guarantees were fabricated. There were no guarantees by the United States government or the Department of Agriculture. So, perhaps Pennant could have been more diligent, but they are looking at what they are thinking is government insured bonds. And the investors, be it IMET or the University of Wisconsin or anyone else, they think they are buying insured bonds or an interest in insured bonds. And that is where the inquiry seems to have stopped. Now —
THE COURT: So, are you saying they are not institutions of higher learning? (Laughter.)
MR. KING: Well, “wisdom” and “learning” are different.
THE COURT: I know. And Monday morning quarterbacking is kind of easy, I guess.
MR. KING: There is a certain amount of trust. And the trust is based on the fact that if anyone goes to their investment advisor and thinks they are buying either a U.S.treasury note or a U.S. guaranteed document, they believe that that is what it is — what it appears on its face to be.
BY THE COURT:
Q. Mr. Fisher, did you do — you, personally, do — not all of this activity, but the things that Mr. King indicated you were responsible for? Did you do those things?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Tell me in your own words what you did in this case.
A. Sure. In order for us to establish the business, I assisted in creating falsified financial statements, falsified resumes and falsified other background documents between our company, so that we could get a USDA approval from the United States, in order for us to do loans for the USDA. It is called business and industry loans.
Q. Did you start out that way or did you start out in a legitimate way and you evolved or devolved to the falsification or how did this get off the ground?
A. Nik Patel came to me asking for my help in assisting and creating these documents that he had prepared and talked to and found a way for the business to receive an approval for the USDA. And, so, knowing that the information wasn’t accurate, I still assisted with him, believing that we were going to be able to do legitimate loans through the USDA, but under false pretenses.
Q. Is this an instance where you signed on knowing at inception there was falsehood, but that you would be successful enough in a proper way to make good on whatever your obligations were? Is that how it came about?
A. Correct. Because the initial discussion was, then, to sell — Mr. Patel would sell — these loans through appropriate channels, as Mr. King was discussing; and, that there were guarantees available and you sell them for a premium; and, when — that premium was sufficient enough to cover any loans that we were making at that time. It was when we initially discussed it.
Q. So, you had some faith and trust into Mr. Patel?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is that the downfall?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And how did you know Mr. Patel?
A. We worked together at a previous institution call Beach Business Bank. He was located out of Florida and the company was located in Manhattan Beach. And he would come in every month or two months to meet with the office. And we would hang out and, you know, go to different events together. And, so, once we — that was probably three years prior to going to business with him under First Farmers.
Q. Was his connection to that company an up and up proposition?
A. As far as I knew, yes.
Ominously for Nik Patel, the hearing ended with this exchange.
THE COURT: All right. Do you understand, Mr. Fisher, if you leave the jurisdiction or do anything to violate the terms of your release, it will be a lot worse than — I do not know what is going to happen in this case by way of sentencing. I told you that before and it is still true. But it will not go well if you abscond. Okay?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Okay.
Timothy Fisher’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 27.
Read our previous reporting