Property could be forfeited

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Suffolk property where a former Bank of the Commonwealth building is located could be forfeited to the federal government if the property owner is found guilty of bank fraud.

The property at 221 Western Ave. now holds a location of Southern Bank, which took over most of the assets of Bank of the Commonwealth when it failed in September 2011, partially as a result of the fraud allegedly perpetrated by multiple conspirators to mask the true financial condition of the bank.

The branch was constructed around August 2008 on property owned by Troy Brandon Woodard, who was a vice president and mortgage loan specialist at a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of the Commonwealth.

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According to the indictment, Troy Woodard and his father, Edward J. Woodard, allegedly directed a contractor to fraudulently submit invoices associated with renovations to Troy Woodard’s home and to falsely represent the invoices as costs related to construction of the bank building.

From August 2008 through January 2009, the Woodards also allegedly caused the bank to pay the fraudulent invoices, knowing they were for the personal benefit of Troy Woodard. The scheme allegedly defrauded the bank in the amount of $81,000.

As a result, the real estate has been included in a list of property that will be seized if Troy Woodard is convicted of the charges against him, which include bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and unlawful participation in a loan.

The list included in the indictment also outlines the other property the alleged conspirators stand to forfeit. It includes 79 properties in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Midlothian, North Carolina and Alabama; 18 vehicles, including Lincoln Town Cars, a BMW, a Mercedes, a Porsche and a Denali; and 45 bank accounts totaling in excess of $71 million.

The alleged scheme contributed to the largest bank collapse in Virginia since the 2008 financial crisis.

In addition to the Woodards, others charged include Simon Hounslow, Stephen G. Fields, Thomas E. Arney and Dwight A. Etheridge.

The executives allegedly masked the bank’s true financial condition after the volume of its troubled loans and foreclosed real estate soared. Bank insiders also allegedly overdrew demand deposit accounts to make loan payments, changed terms of loans to make them appear current, and provided preferential financing to troubled borrowers, among other schemes.