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Pupellos plead innocent to Key fraud charges

Key Bank president Frank Pupello, and his son Michael Pupello, a bank vice president, pleaded innocent Tuesday to a variety of charges stemming from an investigation of their banking practices.

The Pupellos were among 14 people arrested Sept. 25 on bank fraud, perjury and communications fraud charges.

Key Bank attorney Michael Freedman, who was among those arrested, pleaded innocent earlier to charges that he helped hide a contract for the bank's new executive vice president from federal banking regulators. The regulators contend there was a legal obligation to notify them of all agreements with bank officers.

Freedman, the husband of Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, filed his written plea on Sept. 28.

Frank Pupello was charged with 13 counts of fraud and filing false statements.

Michael Pupello was charged with deceiving federal regulators by pretending to be a bank client who wanted to persuade Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. officials to lower the payoff for a loan they assumed.

Investigators also allege the bank was involved with money laundering and regularly did business with reputed organized-crime figures. Most of the other defendants in the case have yet to be arraigned.

A 15th defendant, Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Ricky Dawes, accused of leaking a list of the targets of the Key Bank investigation, surrendered Sept. 30 but has not been arraigned.