Fraud plea by Coast Bank's top lender
Add a nail top the coffin of the ill-fated venture between Coast Bank of Bradenton and St. Petersburg builder Construction Compliance Inc. (CCI). The tale of these two is best told in St. Petersburg Times reporter James Thorner's story last year in which a willing Coast Bank helped bankroll CCI in a screwy "no-pain, all-gain" home-flipping gig that backfired big time when housing prices stopped soaring.
Now it's Philip W. Coon's day of reckoning. Coon exploited his position as a top executive at Coast Bank of Bradenton to launch an illegal conspiracy that netted him more than $1-million, according to his just-signed agreement to plead guilty to fraud charges, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. That scheme helped cripple Coast, which became so swamped by bad loans that it was forced into a fire sale to First Banks Inc. of St. Louis that cost Coast stockholders millions of dollars. The story says Coon will lose his Bradenton home, a second house, brokerage accounts, jewelry and other items to pay $1.5-million under the plea agreement. He faces up to five years in prison, but prosecutors will recommend a sentence reduction for his guilty plea. He must also cooperate with the U.S Attorney's Office in its investigation and charges against "other persons." The plea agreement does not identify those people.
Coon, 55, reportedly conspired with John Robert Miller, the president of Tampa's American Mortgage Link, to charge the mortgage company’s client sellers an extra 1 percent fee. According to Department of Justice officials, the Bradenton Herald reports, Miller and Coon pocketed the 1 percent, with Coon receiving three quarters of the revenue translating to more than $1.2-million.
So, one partial fix to one mess among many in Florida's housing/mortgage market. Stay tuned.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist