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May 11, 2012

Koljo Nikolovski Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Role in One of the Largest Credit Union Collapses in American History

An Eastlake man who played a key role in one of the largest credit union collapses in American history was sentenced to 18 years in prison, United States Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said.

Koljo Nikolovski, 49, of Eastlake, Ohio and Skopje, Macedonia, was sentenced to consecutive prison sentences of 10 years and eight years by U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko.

"This sentence should send a strong message to those who would engage in financial fraud," Dettelbach said. "The collapse of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union was a tremendous hardship for this community."

Nikolovski pleaded guilty in January to 10 counts of bank fraud, three counts of bank bribery, and five counts of money laundering for his role in the collapse of St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union.

The credit union closed in 2010, costing the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund more than $170 million.

Nikolovski fraudulently obtained several loans from St. Paul and Raguz, totaling approximately $2.9 million, from 2003 through 2005 that were not repaid. He also fraudulently obtained several additional loans in 2009, totaling $2.7 million, and failed to repay those as well, according to court documents.

Nikolovski corruptly gave credit union CEO Anthony Raguz $100,000 in exchange for Raguz approving and facilitating the fraudulent loans, according to court documents.

In 2009, Raguz tried to disassociate himself from Nikolovski, but Nikolovski followed Raguz home, told him he knew where Raguz's family lived, and threatened to shoot Raguz and family members if he either refused to provide a loan or told anyone about previous loans, according to court records.

Nikolovski's money laundering counts relate to the purchase of two Mercedes Benz automobiles for about $99,000 and $60,000 and a wire transfer of $2.3 million to a bank account in Skopje, Macedonia.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John D. Sammon and Bridget M. Brennan, following an investigation by the Cleveland Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, with the assistance of the Eastlake Police Department.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio

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