NORFOLK, VA—Eric H. Menden, 53, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was sentenced today to 138 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for engaging in a $41 million bank fraud scheme that contributed to the failure of the Bank of the Commonwealth and a separate historic-tax-credit fraud scheme that cost state and federal governments over $12 million and investors more than $8 million.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; John Boles, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Rick A. Raven, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s Washington, D.C. Field Office; Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); and Jon T. Rymer, Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC-OIG), made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Raymond A. Jackson.
“Eric Menden’s crimes have had a devastating impact on the Hampton Roads community,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “A high-school drop-out who worked to own a construction company, Mr. Menden was making a good living doing what he loved. Yet he threw it all away by stealing millions from taxpayers, investors, and the Bank of the Commonwealth. Today’s sentence is just punishment for his fraud, along with the steps he’s taken to accept responsibility for his actions.”
“Today’s sentence reaffirms that IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to ‘following the money trail’ to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice,” said IRS SAC Raven.
“Today’s sentence brings justice and holds Eric Menden accountable for defrauding TARP applicant Bank of the Commonwealth for three years in an elaborate tit-for-tat scheme with bank insiders that contributed to the failure of the bank,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General at SIGTARP. “Menden received $35 million in bank loans with such preferential treatment that bank employees referred to the bank as ‘the Bank of Eric and George.’ In return, he conspired with bank insiders to extend-out non-performing loans, masking their past-due status through tricks such as fraudulent construction draws and Menden’s purchase of bank-owned property at inflated prices. I want to thank Neil MacBride and the assistant United States Attorneys on the case who have shown great leadership in holding Menden accountable for his crimes.”
“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General is especially concerned when fraudulent activities contribute to bank failures causing losses to the Deposit Insurance Fund,” said FDIC Inspector General Rymer. “Today’s sentencing of Mr. Menden reaffirms our commitment to join our law enforcement partners in punishing those who seek to undermine the integrity of our nation’s banks and the viability of the fund.”
On April 20, 2012, Menden pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. According to the statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, from January 2008 through August 2011, Menden admitted that he and his business partner performed favors for insiders at the Bank of Commonwealth in exchange for preferential lending treatment and assisted insiders in concealing the extent of the bank’s non-performing assets by purchasing bank-owned property.
At the time the bank failed on September 23, 2011, Menden and his business partner owed the bank approximately $41 million and the total approximate loss related solely to the loans outlined in court records is at least $13,263,443.