Brunswick Man Convicted of Illegally Receiving $3 Million as Part of St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union Collapse
A Brunswick man was convicted of 14 counts related to illegally receiving more than $3 million from the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union in exchange for cash payments to the credit union’s chief operating officer, law enforcement officials said.
Svetislav Vujovic, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced on August 19.
Following a weeklong trial in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, a jury convicted Vujovic on all 14 counts—10 counts of making false statements to a federal credit union, two counts of money laundering, and one count each of financial institution fraud and giving gifts for procuring loans.
The credit union was closed and then liquidated in 2010 after sustaining losses of approximately $170 million, making it one of the largest credit union failures in American history. Nearly 20 people have been convicted of crimes related to fraudulent lending that resulted in the credit union’s failure.
“The failure of the credit union was a tragedy for this community,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We will make sure all those responsible for its failure will be held accountable.”
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, said, “The St. Paul Federal Credit Union collapse resulted in one of the largest credit union failures ever investigated in U.S. history. This complex, large-scale investigation transcended international borders and will continue until all those involved are brought to justice.”
“Honest and law-abiding citizens are fed up with the likes of those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people’s money,” said Special Agent in Charge Kathy Enstrom, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Let this conviction stand as a warning to those who victimize the public that whether you are the main perpetrator of a fraud, or assist in its facilitation, the law will hold all guilty parties accountable.”
Vujovic, aided and abetted by Anthony Raguz, the former chief operating officer of Eastlake-based St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union, received numerous fraudulently obtained loans totaling approximately $3 million from the credit union between 2004 and 2008, according to court documents and trial testimony.
Vujovic obtained these loans by making false representations and promises, and he received many of those loans after having already defaulted on previous loans issued to him by the credit union. These loans were obtained in the names Cleveland Comfort Corp; SND Inc.; Balkan Contracting; GBRS Properties LLC; and Balkan Enterprise Inc. The credit union lost approximately $3 million as a result of Vujovic’s fraudulent conduct.
Vujovic corruptly gave Raguz cash payments totaling approximately $20,000 to induce and reward Raguz for approving and facilitating the approval of the fraudulent loans to Vujovic, according to court documents and trial testimony.
Raguz is currently serving a 14-year federal prison sentence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan and United States Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach following an investigation by the Cleveland Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.
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