Former Orion Bank president pleads guilty to bank fraud

FORT MYERS - Jerry J. Williams, 51, former president of the now defunct Orion Bank, which had branches in Manatee and Sarasota counties, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making false statements to federal regulators, the U.S. Attorney's Office said today.

Williams faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, Williams, who now lives in Texas, participated in a conspiracy with top Orion Bank executives, Thomas Hebble, former executive vice president; Angel Guerzon, former senior vice president, and former Orion Bank borrower, Francesco Mileto, to mislead state and federal regulators that Orion Bank was in a better capital position than it was in truth and fact, authorities said.

The conspiracy had two objectives: to finance the sale of promissory notes secured by mortgages held by Orion Bank on distressed properties, thereby creating the illusion that non-performing loans were performing loans, and to conceal the financing for the sale of Orion Bancorp, Inc. stock to Mileto, thus creating the illusion of a legitimate capital infusion into the bank. U.S.. The conspirators accomplished these objectives by falsifying the books and records of Orion Bank and deceiving state and federal regulators over a period of seven months, from May 2009 until November 13, 2009.