Exec of failed Bridgeport bank pleads guilty in fraud case that ensnared ex-Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson
Rosalie Corvite is cooperating with federal authorities in their continuing investigation of the failure of clout-heavy Washington Federal Bank for Savings.
The chief financial officer who helped loot millions of dollars from Washington Federal Bank for Savings pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Chicago for her role in a massive fraud scheme that led to the government-ordered shutdown of the clout-heavy Bridgeport bank.
Rosalie Corvite, 46, could face five years in prison for falsifying bank records.
Corvite was one of 15 people indicted on federal charges as a result of the bank’s collapse in December 2017.
They included bank employees, members of the bank’s board of directors and customers, among them former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson. Thompson — the grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley — was convicted earlier this year and is to be sentenced in July for lying to federal investigators and income-tax fraud for claiming tax deductions on payments toward loans from the bank even though he never paid any interest on them.
Corvite was Washington Federal’s top finance officer from 2011 until federal regulators shut down the bank six years later after discovering an embezzlement scheme that cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. $90 million to cover.
She never got any of the embezzled money herself but falsified records in an effort to keep the scheme secret, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Netols.
Netols said Corvite acted at the direction of the late John F. Gembara, who was the bank’s president, chief executive officer and major shareholder. Gembara’s father and grandfather previously had run Washington Federal for decades.
The bank, which was at 2869 S. Archer Ave., was closed because of “unsafe or unsound practices.”
The shutdown came days after Gembara was found dead inside a bank customer’s bedroom in Park Ridge in what the police in the northwest suburb and the Cook County medical examiner’s office called a suicide. His family has questioned that finding.
No sentencing date has been set yet for Corvite, who has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in their continuing investigation of Washington Federal.
She’s one of five bank employees who have pleaded guilty.
Attorney Jan Kowalski and her brother William Kowalski, a developer, also have pleaded guilty to charges in the case.
Their older brother Robert Kowalski, a lawyer and developer who was a Gembara friend, is scheduled to stand trial in September on charges that accuse him of embezzling more than $31 million from the bank.
Authorities have said Gembara directed Corvite to falsify the bank records to conceal Kowalski’s embezzlement.
Kowalski has said he’s innocent and that he was a victim of Gembara and other bank employees. He has said they placed his name on delinquent loans without his knowledge.
Click here to read the Sun-Times’ initial investigation of the failure of Washington Federal Bank for Savings.