- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Federal prosecutors have charged the former president of a bank in northwest Oklahoma with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Stephen Ward, 53, is accused of misapplying tens of thousands of dollars in bank funds for his personal benefit, The Oklahoman reported. Two other bank employees have also been charged in the case.

Marjorie Cole, 58, was charged last year with conspiracy to defraud a financial institution and filing a false tax return, and Nicki Day was charged in June with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Ward is the former president of the failed First State Bank in Camargo. Prosecutors said the bank opened in 1911 and closed in 2011 after becoming “critically undercapitalized.”

Prosecutors said Ward allegedly wrote hot checks between 2006 and 2010. They said one of those checks was written to the U.S. Treasury for $187,000.

“Essentially, the defendant and others allowed insufficiently funded checks and Automated Clearing House debits to be held in suspension and not charged against an individual’s personal or business account,” prosecutors said.

Gary James, a defense attorney for Ward, said the charge on Tuesday wasn’t a surprise. He said Ward plans to enter a guilty plea.

“He tried to help a lot of people out there, and it just doesn’t coincide with what the federal requirements are on banking anymore,” James said. “Banking was done a little differently than it is in … an urban-type area.”

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com


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