May 12, 2014
By Bob Coleman
Editor, Coleman Report
In 2008, Laura Ortuondo worked for a small business owner named Annand Sliuman (who previously pleaded guilty in a separate case). In her role as Sliuman’s assistant, Ortuondo, among other things, helped Sliuman manage loans and loan applications with La Jolla Bank.
In May 2008, Ortuondo assisted Sliuman in fraudulently obtaining a $1.8 million loan from La Jolla Bank by knowingly submitting two fraudulent tax forms to the bank on Sliuman’s behalf, which falsely stated that Sliuman had satisfied certain tax liabilities. Sliuman and Ortuondo submitted the fraudulent records to the bank in order to make it appear that he was eligible for the SBA loan from the bank.
Ortuondo then undertook a nearly five-year long effort to thwart federal agents’ investigation of the fraud. The cover-up began in October 2008, when Ortuondo lied to investigators and claimed that she was unaware that she had submitted false documents to the bank. Then, shortly after lying about her knowledge of the fraud, Ortuondo assisted Sliuman in destroying Ortuondo’s personal laptop, knowing that it contained incriminating evidence of their fraud against the bank. To make matters worse, Ortuondo also convinced her husband at the time to lie to federal agents and a federal grand jury on her behalf, claiming – falsely – that he had destroyed her laptop.
In November 2011, federal agents interviewed Ortuondo again regarding her role in the fraudulent procurement of Sliuman’s loan from La Jolla Bank. Again, Ortuondo lied about her role in the fraud and the cover-up, falsely denying that she knowingly submitted fraudulent tax forms to the bank and falsely claiming that her ex-husband destroyed her laptop.
With the guilty plea, Ortuondo admitted to making these false statements to federal agents with the intent to obstruct the federal investigation of the La Jolla Bank fraud.
Ortuondo is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2014.
Sliuman previously pleaded guilty in a separate case to bribing an officer of La Jolla Bank in exchange for the officer approving loans on his behalf, and admitted his role in the fraud and obstruction of justice conspiracy with Ortuondo.