Suspect in Sonoma Valley Bank fraud found dead


May 9, 2014



By Bob Coleman
Editor, Coleman Report


A couple of weeks ago I reported on the arrest of two Sonoma Valley Bank bankers, Sean Cutting and Brian Melland, a borrower and the borrower’s attorney.

The four were arrested in connection with the loss of $8.65 million in TARP funds when the bank was closed by regulators in August 2010.

Now, the borrower is dead.

Reports the The Press Democrat:

“A Marin County developer at the center of a federal fraud investigation into the collapse of Sonoma Valley Bank was found dead Tuesday two days after his family reported him missing.

“Bijan Madjlessi died in a car crash on a weekend trip to Stinson Beach, where he had headed for a Sunday morning walk and never returned, said Steven M. Bauer, an attorney representing Madjlessi.

“Authorities found his gold Mercedes sedan about 320 feet down a ravine off Shoreline Highway about 2 miles from the coast and Muir Beach.

“A longtime developer with numerous projects in the North Bay, Madjlessi borrowed millions of dollars from an array of banks and was unable to make loan payments even before he found himself the target of a federal investigation.

“Madjlessi and his business partners defaulted on at least $34 million in loans made by Sonoma Valley Bank, which was closed by regulators in 2010 and its assets sold to Westamerica Bank. By 2011, the bank and its loans to Madjlessi were the focus of a federal fraud investigation.

“The probe resulted in a grand jury indictment against Madjlessi, Santa Rosa attorney David Lonich and two former Sonoma Valley Bank executives, CEO Sean Cutting and Chief Loan Officer Brian Melland.

“All four men entered not guilty pleas and were out of custody on $250,000 bail. The three remaining defendants are scheduled for a status conference in court Friday.”

Read more here