Nekvasil pleads guilty

Published 4:55 am Friday, October 15, 2004

By Staff
United States Attorney Margaret Chiara, acting special agent in charge of Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation, Sandra Carter and special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Daniel D. Roberts, announced that James Nekvasil, Jr., 38, of Mishawaka, Ind., formerly of Niles, along with Linda Willings, 35, of Niles, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Nekvasil, Jr. also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud, along with providing a false statement to the united States Probation Office.
These guilty pleas were the result of a Aug. 11, 23004, third superseding indictment charging seven individuals with various conspiracy and money laundering counts, along with forfeiture allegations.
According to court records and evidence provided during six days of an anticipated six week trail, during April 1999 through August 2002, Nekvasil, Jr. and others, schemed to defraud numerous financial institutions in Northern indiana and Western Michigan, including Provident Financial Services, Old Kent Bank now known as Fifth Third Bank, Wells Fargo, First Union National bank now known as Wachovia Bank and Sobieski Bank.
Nekvasil, Jr. controlled and operated numerous business involving land development, among other things, and used fraudulently obtained bank funds to acquire properties.
As the result of a prior felony conviction invoking bank fraud, he was prevented from acquiring new financial interests as a condition of his supervised release.
As part of the conspiracy, Nekvasil, Jr., in cooperation with Shellie Paskiet, 35, Patti Jo Johnson, 56, also known as Patti Jo Paskiet and Donald Johnson, 62, all of Niles, began using their names in acquiring properties by executing fraudulent documents and making material misstatement to bank officials.
They represented to bank officials that they owned and operated fictitious businesses and could afford up to a half million dollar mortgages. Their conduct caused banks and financial companies to lend in excess of one million dollars in a series of mortgage loans for one piece of property in Niles. Nekvasil, Jr. instructed his co-conspirators that his name could not be used for any credit transactions or placed on any bank accounts.
Nekvasil, Jr. also used his family business, along with the assistance of his mother, Francis Nekvasil, 57, of Niles, and others, including Andrew Ujdak, 38, a senior commercial loan officer at Sobieski Bank and former councilman in South Bend, ind., to receive unauthorized access to lines of credit.
The disbursement of those unauthorized lines of credit violated bank lending controls and restrictions because the lines if credit exceeded Ujdak's lending limits. the line of credits were never repaid resulting in gross losses to Sobieski Bank of more than nine million by May 2002. In 2003, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, Ujdak was sentenced to 90 months imprisonment.
According to court records, much of the fraudulently obtained monies were moved through shell corporations and sham corporate bank and credit union accounts, and were ultimately used to purchase real and personal property in support of the conspirators' lavish lifestyles. Seven co-conspirators were charged in the scheme. Some of the funds were used to purchase real estate, sports tickets, as well as a 47 foot yacht, over 25 luxury vehicles, a motor home, clothing and jewelry, among other things. More than one million dollars were used to pay for extravagant personal expenditures. Another co-conspirator, PJ Dobbins, 35, of PJ's Tickets in South Bend, ind. was also charged in this scheme.
On Oct. 12, 2004, during the trial, Shellie Paskiet, Patti Jo Paskiet Johnson, and Donald Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and financial institution fraud. the next day, PJ Dobbins and Francis Nekvasil also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to a money laundering charge. After today's guilty pleas of Mr. Nekvasil and Willings, the court released the jury.
Sentencing for all defendants is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2005.
Conspiracy to commit money laundering is in violation of Title 18, united States Code Section 1956. the maximum penalty for a conviction of this count is 20 years imprisonment and $500,000 in fines. Conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud is in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. the maximum penalty for a conviction of this count is five years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines.
Making a false statement to federal authorities is in violation of title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. The maximum penalty for a conviction of this count is five years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines. Financial institution fraud is in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344. the maximum penalty for a conviction of this count is 30 years imprisonment and $1,000,000 in fines.
Chiara commended the special agents of the Grand Rapids office of the IRS Criminal Investigation and the St. Joseph office of the FBI for their work in this investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joan E. Meyer and Matthew G. Borgual prosecuted this case on behalf of the United States.