Fraud. Photo credit:
Fraud. Photo credit:

A one-time loan agent for a now-defunct bank turned herself in to federal authorities Friday to face criminal allegations of paying kickbacks to the institution’s vice president and Small Business Administration lending-department manager.

Jocelyn J. Brown, 59, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on charges of conspiracy, bribery and making a false statement to a federal agent.

In her role as an unofficial broker for La Jolla Bank, which failed in February 2010 and was taken over by the FDIC, Brown allegedly collected tens of thousands of dollars in referral fees and kicked back a portion to the bank manager in cash every time she was paid.

According to prosecutors, the defendant, a San Diego resident, paid the bribes in return for the banker’s assurance that loans would be approved and funded and that Brown’s commissions thus would continue.

In addition, the manager arranged to pay Brown a fraudulent five-figure “commission” for a loan that the defendant had no part in brokering or referring to the bank. Brown allegedly furthered the scheme by generating a fake invoice, pretending that she had earned the commission.

After she was paid, Brown cashed the $30,000 check and gave a portion of the money to the bank manager, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego. The two allegedly agreed to conceal the bribes by hiding the commissions from borrowers, making the payments in cash and lying to law enforcement agents if they were asked about the transactions.

Though she and the SBA manager traded phone calls and text messages and had a sit-down meeting in June 2014, Brown told federal agents in September of that year that she had not spoken to or seen the bank official since before she learned about the federal investigation.

At the time of its failure, La Jolla Bank had outstanding debt of over $1 billion, which the FDIC absorbed, with the costs ultimately passed on to U.S. taxpayers.

Brown was arrested upon surrendering at the San Diego FBI Field Office this morning.

— City News Service