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Credit unions, banks and others invested more than $370 million with Bentley Financial, defendant also facing $3.25 million fine. PHILADELPHIA – Nearly three months after fraud and bribery charges were brought against Robert L. Bentley for selling credit unions, banks and other investors fake CDs, he pleaded guilty on March 5 and now faces up to 30 years in prison. Bentley, who ran Bentley Financial Services, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of bank bribery. In addition to the prison term, Bentley is also facing up to $3.25 million in fines. Formal charges were brought against Bentley on Dec. 14. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8. 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. Meanwhile, David Marion of the Philadelphia law firm Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads LLP, was appointed receiver over Bentley’s assets. Marion said $300 million has already been recovered and the remaining 10% may be the hardest to get back due to litigation with a number of other parties, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Indeed, according to United States Attorney Patrick Meehan, 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. In February, Parker pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to bribery. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $3 million. Parker is scheduled for sentencing May 25. Marion’s firm is also pursuing litigation against certain financial institutions, securities firms, accounting firms and related individuals who may have assisted Bentley in the operation of his Ponzi scheme, including Southeastern Securities, SFG Financial Services, Peninsula Bank and certain individuals associated with those institutions. “The litigation seeks to have the third party defendants and others pay the Receivership for the losses and harm suffered by Bentley Financial Services, Inc. because of the actions of the defendants in assisting Bentley in his scheme, including its inability to pay monies contractually owed to investors,” according to Marion. Marion also continues to pursue his claims against three banks in Texas and others that received premature pay-outs of their Bentley investments and have refused to return those amounts to the receivership, as well as his actions against certain companies and individuals who have withheld assets that the receiver believes rightly belong in the receivership estate. -

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