Feds arrest their first bank bailout fraud suspect

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Federal authorities on Monday charged the former chief executive of a New York bank with being the first suspect to try and rip off taxpayer funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District in Manhattan said it arrested Charles Antonucci, former CEO of The Park Avenue Bank, with self-dealing, bank bribery, embezzlement of bank funds and fraud, among other charges.

Antonucci is accused of trying to defraud the TARP program of more than $11 million in taxpayer money, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Also, during his time as bank executive, Antonucci allegedly authorized credit extensions and overdrafts to "customers with whom he had financial relationships," in one case extending credit "in exchange for the use of the customer's private plane," according to documents from the U.S. Attorney's office.

In addition, he used the bank to defraud Florida pastors out of more than $100,000 that had been earmarked to build a new church, prosecutors said.

Antonucci was arrested Monday at his home in Fishkill, N.Y. and is expected to appear in court Monday. Prosecutors say he used a company he owned called Easy Wealth Group to mask some of the fraudulent transactions.

Regulators seized The Park Avenue Bank over the weekend.

Antonucci's attorney, Charles Stillman, told CNNMoney.com: "We just learned of these charges today, are studying them and therefore have no comment." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,288.63 155.93 0.86%
Nasdaq 5,008.10 44.57 0.90%
S&P 500 2,117.39 12.89 0.61%
Treasuries 2.08 0.08 4.10%
Data as of 4:16pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 129.09 0.63 0.49%
Cisco Systems Inc 30.19 0.68 2.30%
Microsoft Corp 43.88 0.03 0.07%
Intel Corp 34.06 0.81 2.44%
Facebook Inc 79.75 0.78 0.99%
Data as of 4:00pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

Guinness owner says inclusion of an LGBT group in this year's parade is reason to resume its sponsorship, though some gay rights groups are still protesting the parade's policies. More

Remember Pets.com? The Nasdaq is roaring back towards its all-time high. Here are some of the biggest dot-com busts from the last time the Nasdaq topped 5,000. More

Michael Jordan is among the newest names on Forbes' annual list of the world's richest people. The basketball star made his fortune through endorsement deals and his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team. More