St. Paul Croatian FCU's Former CEO Pleads Guilty
Anthony Raguz, the former CEO of the $240 million St. Paul Croatian FCU in suburban Cleveland, and six other people have pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with the collapse of the credit union and will testify against the main suspect in the case, according to court documents.
Raguz has admitted to accepting $1 million in bribes in exchange for approving more than 1,000 loans totaling $70 million to borrowers who had no intention of repaying funds.
The loans were ultimately signed over to Koljo Nikolovski, the main suspect in the case. Raguz is already in jail and will forfeit $1 million, authorities said. The pleadings are disclosed in documents filed in federal court in Cleveland.
Raguz’ had previously admitted that he made the loans without requiring collateral and knew the borrowers had few assets, no employment history and often used fictitious names.
Nikolovski’s trial is scheduled to begin next month. He is accused of transferring more than $6 million of phony loan proceeds to personal bank accounts in his native Albania and Macedonia.
Rose Nikolovski, Kojo Nikolovski’s ex-wife, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him and forfeit $850,000 in Macedonian bank accounts and a 2003 BMW.
Others who have agreed to plead guilty are John Cendol, Rose Nikolovski’s brother, Ruth Cendol, Edward Watral, Daniel Kocher and Jennifer Cerjan, according to court documents.
All have agreed to testify against Kojo Nikolovski, the documents said.
The NCUA conserved and then closed the credit union, located in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, in 2010. The failure cost the NCUSIF $170 million. At least eight other borrowers have also been charged in the case.