Nov 6 A former chief executive of Bank of the
Commonwealth was sentenced on Wednesday to 23 years in prison
and ordered to pay $333.6 million in restitution for running
what federal prosecutors called a massive fraud that led to the
failed Virginia lender's demise.
The sentence imposed against Edward Woodard is one of the
longest for a top bank executive over activities that
prosecutors have said contributed to the hundreds of bank
failures since the 2008 financial crisis.
Woodard, 70, was convicted on May 24 by a Norfolk, Virginia,
jury of bank fraud and several other counts.
Prosecutors accused him and other Bank of the Commonwealth
executives of providing preferential treatment to "friends of
the bank" in return for favors, and hiding poorly performing
assets to mask the bank's deteriorating financial condition.
They said Woodard also enriched himself and his family by
selling his condominium at an inflated price and letting
customers use bank funds to buy his son's troubled properties.
"Woodard's felonious conduct, motivated by his own greed,
destroyed a financial institution, left former bank employees
jobless, and defrauded a federal recovery program out of
millions of dollars," Dana Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.
Prior to its failure, Bank of the Commonwealth sought a $28
million federal bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program,
but withdrew its application amid concerns from the Federal
Reserve about its health, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk imposed the
sentence, including the restitution to the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corp, as well as five years of supervised release.
Prosecutors had sought a 30-year prison term.
Lawyers for Woodard sought a term of less than 10 years,
saying a "convergence of causes," including the financial crisis
and an unsuccessful growth strategy were primarily to blame for
the bank's failure. They also said Woodard's health and his
civic and charitable endeavors warranted a lesser punishment.
"We are relieved that the court didn't impose the 30 years
that the government requested, but are disappointed with the 23
year sentence," Andrew Sacks, a lawyer for Woodard, said in a
telephone interview. "We are going to pursue a vigorous appeal."
Woodard is being held in federal custody, Sacks said.
Another former bank official, executive vice president
Stephen Fields, is appealing his conviction and 17-year prison
sentence in the case, court records show.
The FDIC on Sept. 23, 2011, seized Bank of the Commonwealth,
one of 389 U.S. lenders to fail between 2009 and 2011.
The case is U.S. v. Woodard, U.S. District Court, Eastern
District of Virginia, No. 12-cr-00105.