Failure of clout-heavy Bridgeport bank sees a crooked contractor plead guilty, agree to help feds

Boguslaw Kasprowicz pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the failure of Washington Federal Bank for Savings — the investigation that also ensnared ex-Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson.

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Boguslaw Kasprowicz (right) at a court appearance in March 2021.

Boguslaw Kasprowicz (right) got more than $14 million in crooked construction loans from Washington Federal Bank for Savings to build homes in Bucktown and Wicker Park between 2009 and 2017 — loans prosecutors said never were meant to have to be repaid.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times file

A Chicago contractor pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges in the Washington Federal Bank for Savings failure case, admitting he helped embezzle $66 million from the Bridgeport bank, using some of the money to support his son’s Hollywood acting career.

Boguslaw Kasprowicz, 65, a longtime customer of Washington Federal, admitted he aided and abetted an embezzlement scheme involving John F. Gembara, the bank’s president, CEO and major shareholder, who was found dead with a rope around his neck in a customer’s bedroom in December 2017, about two weeks before federal regulators shut down the bank.

Kasprowicz pleaded guilty to cheating on his personal income taxes by failing to report the money he took from the scheme. In his plea deal, he also admitted cheating on the tax returns of his construction company.

According to the plea agreement, Kasprowicz’s role in the scheme had him using money embezzled from the bank to pay off Gembara’s credit-card bills and personal loans that were used in part to pay for the purchase of a yacht named Expelliarmus after a spell in the Harry Potter books.

After his indictment last year, prosecutors revealed that Kasprowicz had used some of the money to buy a home in the Los Angeles suburbs and to pay for his son to study acting at the University of Southern California. They said he also sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to two other children in Poland, one of them a doctor.

Washington Federal Bank for Savings, 2869 S. Archer Ave., before it was shut down in December 2017 for “unsafe or unsound practices” days after CEO John F. Gembara was found dead at a bank customer’s home in what authorities called a suicide.

Washington Federal Bank for Savings, 2869 S. Archer Ave., before it was shut down in December 2017 for “unsafe or unsound practices” days after CEO John F. Gembara was found dead at a bank customer’s home in what authorities called a suicide.

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One of 15 people who have been charged with crimes over the bank’s collapse, Kasprowicz is the seventh to plead guilty and cooperate in the continuing federal investigation.

Another bank customer, William Kowalski, has been given a deferred-prosecution agreement to testify against his brother, Robert M. Kowalski, whose trial is set for September.

Patrick Daley Thompson leaving court Feb. 14 after being convicted of income tax fraud and lying to federal regulators about his loans from Washington Federal Bank for Savings.

Patrick Daley Thompson leaving court Feb. 14 after being convicted of income tax fraud and lying to federal regulators about his loans from Washington Federal Bank for Savings.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file

Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, who also was among those charged in the bank investigation, faces sentencing July 6 after being found guilty by a jury of lying to federal regulators about money he borrowed from the bank and cheating on his income-tax returns by taking deductions for interest payments he never made on the loans.

Kasprowicz, who built homes financed by Gembara’s bank in Bucktown and Wicker Park, got $14.3 million from the bank in construction loans between 2009 and 2017, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Daniel told U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall — loans that Kasprowicz and his Thomas Development company never intended to repay, not even after the homes were sold.

After Tuesday’s court hearing, Kasprowicz’s lawyer cast blame on Gembara, the dead bank CEO. “To some extent, he was a pawn of Gembara,” attorney Adam Sheppard said.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Kasprowicz could face as much as 15 years in prison, though he’s likely to face a lesser penalty given his cooperation.

He has agreed to pay $12.4 million to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which had to cover $90 million in losses at the bank, plus $3.9 million more to the Internal Revenue Service and $480,982 to the Illinois Department of Revenue for his tax crimes.

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