November 25, 2013
In a trial that saw the ex-president of failed Bank of Commonwealth get 23 years for bank fraud, a banker that cooperated with the FBI and testified for the prosecution was sentenced to no jail time. He received a one year house arrest, five years probation sentence.
Former Vice President Jeremy Churchill had pled guilty to one count of bank fraud for approving construction loan draw requests for work on a condo project that had not been done. The draws were used to pay off other loans for developer Dwight Etheridge.
His testimony help convict three Bank of Commonwealth execs, and four borrowers for a bank fraud that cost the FDIC $334 million for the failed bank.
Former Executive Vice President Stephen Fields was sentenced to 17 years. The former CEO’s son drew an eight year sentence.
Former bank borrowers convicted of bank fraud were sentenced to 11 ½ years, 14 years, 50 months and two years respectively.
In handing down the no jail term sentence, the judge called Churchill’s actions “awesome.”
Writes The Virginia Pilot’s Tim McGlone, “Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa O’Boyle asked the judge to sentence Churchill to 27 months in prison. The prosecutor had already signed off on a reduction of his penalty for his cooperation. Churchill’s guideline range was a maximum of four years in prison.
“She cited his “courage” as a witness during three days of testimony.
“The judge took note.
“‘For almost three years, you dragged this cooperation cross around your neck,’ Allen said. ‘You were the only insider to do so. That was just phenomenal.’
“She also cited the particularly brutal cross-examination Churchill was subjected to, in which a defense lawyer called him a pathological liar. The jury, though, saw it differently.
‘”Are we going to lock someone up like that?’ she said. ‘Not on the court’s watch. It’s something that has to be rewarded.’”
Churchill told the judge, “I tried to do what was right.”
Churchill was also ordered to pay restitution of $5 million to the FDIC with $150 monthly payments.