Former banker pleads guilty to bank fraud

Martin Ross, 52.
Greenup Detention Center


ASHLAND A former Ashland bank executive pleaded guilty Monday to charges he swiped $1.4 million from Town Square Bank by processing loans to fictitious customers, court records show.

Martin Ross, who was a senior vice president at the bank, admitted in a federal court plea bargain he invented fake customers using an elaborate scheme in which he crafted detailed identities with made-up tax returns, credit reports, applications, brokerage account statements, property deed filings, certificates of insurance and Uniform Commercial Code filings, federal court records show.

Records also show Ross invented at least five fictitious customers and issued loans ranging from $45,360 to $245,785 between February 2007 and August 2017; those loan represent accounts for which a balance remains.

On one transaction, for instance, he took out a $125,000 loan in the name of Steven Parker using the fake documents and withdrew $107,177.01 from it.

He fabricated a detailed identity for the fictitious Parker as a small business owner and long-term employee of a local business who owned several rental properties. He invented a company called Direct Tech, purportedly operated by Parker, for which the funds were needed, but took the money and made payments on his personal debts and payments on other fraudulent loans.

He developed the scheme starting in 2000, according to records.

“This is a case that did not involve customer funds — not that it makes it better; it’s still illegal and he betrayed the trust of people at the bank,” said Ross’s attorney David Mussetter.

Ross’s scheme started as a “bad decision” to take out the initial loan and spiraled out of control, according to Mussetter.

Ross is scheduled for sentencing April 16, according to records. The charge carries a 30-year maximum sentence but Ross probably will get fewer years because he has no prior offenses and accepted responsibility.

However, the amount stolen, the sophistication of the scheme and abuse of the bank’s trust will weigh against him in sentencing.

A term of multiple years is a virtual certainty, although the final decision is up to U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning, Mussetter said.

When he completes his sentence Ross will have to undergo a period of supervised release, similar to probation.

The plea bargain also calls for Ross to pay back the money. The government already has seized some personal property.

Ross was first arrested Sept. 14 and confined to the Greenup County Detention Center, and was released on $25,000 bond.

He originally was charged at the state level after an investigation launched after the bank reported suspected fraud and was arrested after police seized loan and deed documents. IRS and tax returns, and bank statements linked to some of the fictitious loan applicants.

Ross remains free pending his sentencing.


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