Vestavia Hills father and son arrested in bank fraud scheme | USAO-NDAL
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Today a father and son were arrested and charged in a bank fraud scheme in which they provided fraudulent information to financial institutions for the purpose of purchasing boats, luxury vehicles and heavy equipment, said U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Johnnie Sharp, Jr.
26-count indictment filed in U.S. district court Christophe A. Montalbano, 38, from Vestavia, and Gus Anthony Montalbano, 75, from Vestavia, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, making false statements on a loan application and money laundering. Christopher Montalbano has also been charged with aggravated identity theft and bank fraud. Christopher Montalbano and Gus Montalbano were arrested at their respective homes in Vestavia.
According to the indictment, from 2015 to February 2020, the Montalbano conspired to submit fraudulent information regarding their income to numerous financial institutions in support of numerous fraudulent loan applications to purchase boats, luxury vehicles and heavy equipment. Defendants submitted fraudulent personal and corporate financial statements, tax returns, pay stubs, W-2s, Hull Identification Numbers (HIN) and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) invalid in support of loan applications. In addition, the defendants applied for and obtained several loans for the purpose of purchasing a luxury vehicle without revealing that they had already financed the purchase of the same luxury vehicle from another financial institution. The funds obtained through the fraudulent loans were used to pay for personal living expenses and to make loan payments owed to other financial institutions.
In March 2018 and September 2018, Christopher Montalbano fraudulently used the identity of another person on a loan application submitted to USAA Bank.
The indictment also charges Christopher Montalbano with bank fraud over the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES”) violation. April 29, 2020, Montalbano submitted to Cross River Bank a fraudulent PPP loan application for LSA Corporation. Montalbano fraudulently represented that the funds he was seeking for LSA Corp. would be “used to retain workers and maintain the payroll or make mortgage interest, rent and utility payments” when in fact he intended to use the funds he obtained from the PPP for personal expenses. On April 30, 2020, Cross River Bank approved and deposited $ 58,153.00 into the bank account of LSA Corporation.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize resources from the Department of Justice, in partnership with government agencies, to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent pandemic fraud. The working group assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud by scaling up and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and by leveraging the information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Ministry’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF online complaint form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. US Assistant Prosecutors Robin B. Mark and Kristen Osborne are continuing the case.
An indictment contains only charges. An accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.