Originator Steals $14 mil from Employer

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MORTGAGE EXPERT
8 · 25 · 06

A Chicago loan originator has been arrested for stealing $14 million from his employer.

Jacques L. Antoine lived pretty well on a salary of just $48,500 a year.

According to federal authorities he lived in a Florida home valued at $1.6 million, cut $800,000 in checks to luxury auto and boat dealers and bought eight pieces of property in Chicago.

Antoine, 58, a native of Haiti who worked as an assistant vice president and mortgage loan originator at Harris Trust and Savings Bank in Chicago, has been arrested for allegedly stealing $14 million from the company between 1998 and 2004.

He was arrested Aug. 16 at his $1.6 million home in Weston, Florida, “without incident,” the FBI said in a statement.

“I can tell you the activity was uncovered during an internal review,” bank spokeswoman Amy Yuhn told MortgageDaily.com in an e-mail statement. “We are working with authorities in this matter and therefore cannot discuss the specifics of the case.

“The important thing to note is that no customers were impacted,” Yuhn added.

The case is being heard in U.S. District Court in Miami. If convicted Antoine faces up to 30 years in prison.

An affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Lance Sakurada indicates that Antoine’s alleged scam was uncovered when the bank’s auditors “reported a suspicious debit balance” of nearly $14 million.

The “personal loans/mortgage suspense account” was supposed to be used to cover employee relocation expenses and should have had a zero balance, Sakurada said in the affidavit.

“The suspicious debit balance was traced to the Consumer Lending Center-Servicing Department at Harris in Chicago,” Sakurada said. “Further examination revealed that the debit balance was comprised of numerous debit entries originated and approved by Antoine.

“Antoine requested and received hundreds of checks which do not appear to have been associated with any legitimate relocation of bank employees,” the agent said. “The checks that were issued at Antoine’s request, however, appear to have been used by Antoine to buy property and other assets.”

Checks totaling $5 million went to a former employee. Other checks went to credit card companies ($1.8 million); auto dealerships in Chicago ($400,000); boat dealers in Illinois ($413,000); real estate taxes ($52,000); and to Antoine’s personal bank accounts at Harris and at Bank of America ($1.175 million).

Sakurada said Antoine’s salary was $48,500 a year.

“Antoine is also believed to have used bank funds to purchase eight properties in Chicago and his current residence in Florida, which is valued at $1,600,000,” the FBI said.

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Mortgage Daily Staff

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