TAMPA — Gloria Chaignet Cartwright was just trying to put her son through college.
Her plan was to buy a home through Coast Bank and “flip” it — resell it as soon as she could for a profit — and use the money to pay college expenses.
It didn’t quite happen that way, and this morning, the Bradenton resident found herself in U.S. District Court testifying in connection with a case featuring former Coast Bank executive Philip Coon, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and faces a prison term and a $250,000 fine.
Cartwright’s testimony in an evidentiary hearing was meant to bolster her claim and that of others for restitution in the case.
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She told the court she thought the agreement she signed would be an investment opportunity that could help put her son through college.
She said she was told others had made up to $95,000 in similar transactions, and that “it seemed an air-tight deal to me.”
But when the loan papers arrived, she testified, she could not get satisfactory answers to questions about the documents. They set out the terms for construction of a North Port house she planned to quickly re-sell at a profit through Coast Bank and two other firms.
Cartwright, who testified she is now employed by a pharmaceutical company, said she was told if she did not sign the loan documents, she would still be liable for previous commitments, and that she signed them despite misgivings “out of fear.”
She is among the half-dozen borrowers Sarasota attorney Alan Tannenbaum plans to call to the stand in the hearing. Tannenbaum represents 152 Coast Bank borrowers.
Former Coast Bank executive Coon will be sentenced Jan. 25-29 for wire fraud and money laundering. Coon added an extra point to borrowers’ loan origination fees and kept 75 percent of the proceeds generated from that added percent.
The evidentiary hearing, which began earlier this month, will decide if Coast Bank borrowers in the case suffered financial harm as a result of the crime, and whether they deserve restitution.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.