Top execs at failed bank that took TARP funds get long prison sentences

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Two top executives accused of corruption that led to one of the biggest bank failures in Virginia history will spend much, if not all, of the rest of their lives in prison.

After taking $28 million in bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the Bank of the Commonwealth went under in September 2011, leaving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) with $333 million in losses.

Former Bank of the Commonwealth Chairman and CEO Edward J. Woodard, 70, of Norfolk, Va., is likely to die in prison — he was sentenced last week to 23 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, false entry in a bank record, unlawful participation in loans, false statements to a financial institution, misapplication of bank funds, and bank fraud.

Former Bank of the Commonwealth Executive Vice President Stephen G. Fields, 49, of Chesapeake, Va., was sentenced in September to 17 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, false entries in bank records, misapplication of bank funds, and false statement to a financial institution.

In announcing Fields’ sentencing, prosecutors called the culture among senior executives at the bank “rotten at its core,” calling Fields “a principal contributor to the stench of corruption and entitlement at the bank.”

As a former bank examiner, prosecutors said, “Fields should have stopped and blown the whistle, but instead, he engaged in an extend-and-pretend scheme to mask past-due loans, rigged auctions to get foreclosed property off of the bank’s books, and lied to bank examiners.” Source: