Saturday, May 15, 2021

Former Rocky Mountain Bank executive sentenced to 12 months in prison for fraudulent loans

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A former Billings bank executive was sentenced Friday to a year and a day in federal prison, three years supervised release and a $50,000 fine for his role in fraud crimes related to loans to the developer of a huge Billings mansion.

Stephen Phillip Casher, 47, the former market president of Rocky Mountain Bank, pleaded guilty on June 24, 2020 to bank fraud and to money laundering.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. She allowed Casher to self-report to prison.

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Casher was charged in a 14-count superseding indictment alleging bank fraud and related crimes. A jury trial began on June 22, 2020, and Casher agreed to a plea deal during trial.

Prosecutors said in court documents and at trial that Casher approved loans from Rocky Mountain Bank to Larry Price Jr., who was building a 26,000-square-foot home on Canyonwood Drive in the Ironwood subdivision and other Billings properties.

Price has pleaded guilty to laundering money from his former employer, Signal Peak Energy, and others to finance the development. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

While approving bank loans for Price, Casher never disclosed to Rocky Mountain Bank that he also made large, private, high-interest loans to Price on his own, prosecutors said.

In September 2014, Casher helped approved a Rocky Mountain Bank loan for $3.75 million to a company controlled by Price, H&P Investments. A few days before the loan approval, Casher and another investor made a private loan to Price for $900,000. That second loan was concealed from statements Casher arranged for Price to sign for the bank, prosecutors said.

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Nine months later, Casher helped funnel another high-price loan to Price, according to prosecutors.

Rocky Mountain Bank loaned Seven Lands Holdings, controlled by Price, about $1.18 million. Price then used that money to buy five homes, which he turned into rental properties. One of those homes was owned by Casher, which meant he improperly profited from the deal, prosecutors said.

In addition, several private investors associated with Casher loaned Price $1.5 million, a deal concealed from the bank, prosecutors stated. Casher later received a $20,000 “thank you” for brokering that deal from those investors.

Casher’s tenure at Rocky Mountain Bank ended in January 2017.

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