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PHILADELPHIA – Nearly three years after the SEC filed a civil complaint against Robert F. Bentley and Bentley Financial Services for defrauding credit unions, banks and individual investors with fake certificates of deposits, criminal charges were filed. On Dec. 14, United States Attorney Patrick Meehan said Bentley, of Broomall, Pa., had been charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of bank bribery. If convicted, Bentley could face a maximum of 35 years in prison, a $3.25 million fine and other penalties, according to Meehan. In 2001, the SEC filed a complaint against Bentley and Entrust Group alleging that the defendants claimed to be selling bank-issued, federally-insured CDs that were actually uninsured securities. Hundreds of credit unions, banks and individuals invested more than $370 million with the defendants. The SEC complaint alleges that from 1994 until October 2001, Bentley operated Bentley Financial as a Ponzi scheme. Through the sale of the fraudulent notes, Bentley caused a loss of approximately $24 million to approximately 217 investors such as credit unions, banks, school districts and hospitals. “For almost eight years, this defendant literally sold his victims one empty promise after another,” said Meehan, who is one of seven U.S. Attorney’s to serve on President Bush’s Corporate Fraud Task Force. “This was a long-running scheme in which individuals and the institutions they represented were seen more as targets than investors.” Meehan said another individual with ties to Bentley, Monty Ray Parker, was charged with one count of bank bribery. Bentley Financial was also engaged in the business of selling municipal bonds, treasury bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities. In 1994, Parker was a vice-president of Sunflower Bank, N.A. in Salina, Kan. According to the complaint, Bentley promised Parker that if he would purchase bonds for Sunflower Bank through Bentley Financial, Bentley would kick back one-third of Bentley Financial’s commissions to Parker. The information charges that from 1994 until October 2001, Bentley, acting through Bentley Financial, sold approximately $185 million in bonds to Sunflower Bank, and he “corruptly paid” to Parker approximately one-third of the commissions received by Bentley Financial on such bond purchases totaling approximately $1 million. If convicted, defendant Bentley faces a maximum of 35 years in prison, a $3,250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, a $200 special assessment, restitution, and forfeiture of the proceeds of the fraud and the bribery proceeds. Parker faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, a $3,000,000 fine, three years of supervised release, a $100 special assessment, restitution, and forfeiture of the bribe proceeds. Meanwhile, David Marion of the Philadelphia law firm Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads LLP, was appointed receiver over Bentley’s assets. As of Sept. 3, 2004, an order to distribute $18.5 million to claimants, the fourth round of payments, was granted. So far, more than $314 million has been distributed to claimants. -

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