First TARP scammer convicted

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- Government prosecutors got their first conviction of a person accused of defrauding the Troubled Asset Relief Fund Friday.

Charles Antonucci, the former president of the Park Avenue Bank, pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the TARP fund, securities fraud, self-dealing, bank bribery and the embezzlement of bank funds.

"Today's plea marks an important chapter and demonstrates that SIGTARP and its law enforcement partners will ensure that would-be wrongdoers who seek to profit criminally from this historic program will be caught, charged, and brought to justice," Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky said in a statement.

Barofsky heads SIGTARP, the watchdog group charged with prosecuting those who waste, steal or abuse TARP funds.

Antonucci, who was arrested in March, was convicted after misrepresenting his bank's capital position in the process of trying to secure more than $11 million in TARP funds.

In addition, he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for approving various bank transactions. Among the payoffs: use of a private aircraft, a luxury car and over $250,000 in cash payments. To top of page

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