Feds charge owner of home where Bridgeport bank president died as ‘massive fraud’ case expands
It’s the latest development in a case that traces back to Dec. 3, 2017, when John F. Gembara, president of Washington Federal Bank for Savings was found dead in Marek Matczuk’s home.
The man who owns the million-dollar Park Ridge home where a failed Bridgeport bank president’s dead body was discovered three years ago now faces criminal charges as the investigation into “massive fraud” at Washington Federal Bank for Savings expands.
The homeowner, Marek Matczuk, is among four new defendants accused in a 67-page indictment Thursday. Also named as new defendants are James R. Crotty, a former vice president of the bank, and real estate developers Boguslaw Kasprowicz and Miroslaw Krejza.
It’s the most detailed look yet inside what court records indicate is a complex scheme that siphoned tens of millions of dollars of deposits out of a neighborhood bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. paid about $90 million to make account-holders whole to the extent allowed by law after the bank failed.
The latest indictment lays out an elaborate embezzlement scheme led by John F. Gembara, the late bank president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors — with assistance from five key bank employees — that dates to at least 2004. The money was used to pay property taxes — owed by Matczuk, Kasprowicz and Krejza — and credit-card bills and to buy a luxury yacht, a Sea Ray 420 Sundancer boat named “Expelliarmus.”
Bank employees hid the scheme by falsifying documents given to regulators, according to prosecutors.
They say that at least $31 million was embezzled.
Attorney Robert Kowalski, who previously was charged in the case, Matczuk, Kasprowicz, Krejza and others received the embezzled money in the form of loans they weren’t expected to repay, according to court records.
Prosecutors have said Gembara and Kowalski also used embezzled money in an elaborate but unsuccessful scheme to develop property in the Fulton Market district.
The case dates to Dec. 3, 2017, when Gembara’s body was found in Matczuk’s home. Gembara was found in a seated position, fully clothed, with his glasses on and a green rope wrapped around his neck and wrapped around the railing of a spiral staircase.
The death was ruled a suicide. Days later, federal regulators abruptly shut down the bank.
Records show Matczuk got more than $2.8 million in unsecured loan advances between January 2013 and Nov. 1, 2017. Matczuk had five outstanding mortgages from Washington Federal totaling nearly $2 million at the time of Gembara’s death, covering his home and three other residential properties.
Crotty, who lives in Tinley Park, was fired from the bank in May 2017 shortly before regulators discovered the fraud scheme.
Kasprowicz got 93 loan advances totaling $9.3 million between January 2013 and Nov. 13, 2017, according to a claim by the FDIC. Washington Federal also issued six mortgages totaling $2.4 million to Kasprowicz, including one for $750,000 on his home.
Matczuk’s attorney Lawrence Hyman called the latest move by prosecutors an “unfortunate indictment” and said he expects his client to go to trial because he’s innocent.
Lawyer Adam Sheppard, who represents Kasprowicz, said there is a chance his client could go to trial. He said Kasprowicz is a “victim of the bank president.”
Krejza’s lawyer Brendan Shiller said: “This is one of those rare cases where the feds have overreached, and we believe that Mr. Krejza will be proven innocent once all the facts come to light.”
Crotty’s lawyer wouldn’t comment.
The indictment comes about two years after the first criminal charges related to the bank fraud were filed against Kowalski and his sister Jan Kowalski, who also is an attorney. Prosecutors accused them early in 2019 of concealing assets in Robert Kowalski’s bankruptcy case.
Prosecutors expanded the case last year with an indictment that accused four former employees of Gembara’s bank helping Robert Kowalski and others embezzle at least $29 million.
That indictment last August added two of the bank’s former top executives — Rosallie Corvite, of Chicago, and Jane Iriondo, of Boise, Idaho — to the list of defendants along with Alicia Mandujano and Cathy Torres, both of Chicago.
In October, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ordered Robert Kowalski jailed for trying to contact Gembara’s widow over a lawsuit he filed seeking to have the bank president’s body exhumed. Robert Kowalski has since been released but has again been threatened with jail for not following the rules.
Among others who received loans from the bank was Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) who got an $80,000 loan in October 2017 as regulators were uncovering financial irregularities at the bank. The loan was for repairs to the 11th Ward Regular Democratic Organization’s office at 3659 S. Halsted St.
And the Chicago Sun-Times reported days ago that Thompson bought a $340,000 summer home in Michigan with a secret loan from the bank. Sources have told the Sun-Times authorities have found that Thompson did not make payments on the loan or interest but deducted loan interest payments on his income taxes. Thompson has not been charged with any crime.