Fraud Friday — Bank Officer Sentenced for Embezzlement

March 1, 2019

By Dominic J Bartolone
Contributing Editor, Fraud Friday

Fraud Friday — Bank Officer Sentenced for Embezzlement

A former Mississippi bank officer has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for embezzling funds from a bank where he worked after the bank received $34 million in government assistance from the United States Department of Treasury.

Michael J. Erickson, 42, of Ridgeland, Mississippi, was sentenced to 24 months, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $1,462,030 in restitution to the Southern Bancorp Bank.

Erickson was employed at Southern Bancorp in August 2010 when the bank received an approximate $34 million cash infusion as part of the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), aimed at shoring up failing banks after the economic crash of 2008.

According to the Department of Justice, the Clarksville bank received $33,800,000 from the Treasury Department through the Community Development Capital Initiative. According to Treasury officials, the program was meant to specifically serve “low and moderate income, minority and other underserved communities” during the uncertainty caused by the financial crisis.

Special Inspector General for TARP, Christy Goldsmith Romero, says, “Instead of acting in the public trust, Erickson used his position at Southern Bancorp to steal thousands of dollars for his own personal enrichment from a commercial loan he managed. I thank the United States Attorney’s Office for Northern District of Mississippi for bringing justice in this case.”

As part of his scheme, Erickson used his position as president of the Clarksdale branch of Southern Bancorp to embezzle bank funds for his benefit, generating fraudulent loans for himself and others. The bank’s headquarters is located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Erickson waived indictment, and as part of a plea agreement, admitted to siphoning off $25,000 from an $85,000 loan for personal use. However, U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar said Erickson generated numerous fraudulent loans to provide cash to himself and close friends.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson sentenced Erickson on February 14, after he pleaded guilty in October to one count of embezzlement by a bank officer.

After Erickson’s sentencing in Oxford, Mississippi, U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar remarked, “As evidenced by the sentencing today, we will vigorously prosecute those bank employees who betray the public trust by embezzling or stealing from our financial institutions.”