Sissaye Gezachew Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Sissaye Gezachew, 32, of Springfield, Virginia, pleaded guilty yesterday to using his position at United Bank to assist a conspirator who stole more than $17 million from the financial institution.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and Rebecca Sparkman, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Washington, D.C., Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Gezachew faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud when he is sentenced on Sept. 3, 2010.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Gezachew assisted Osama El-Atari, who defrauded United Bank of more than $17 million in fraudulent loans from 2007 until 2009. Gezachew worked as an assistant vice president-senior credit analyst at United Bank during the time frame of the scheme. Gezachew admitted that he assisted El-Atari by supplying him with fraudulent documents, including a fraudulent tax return, to submit to United Bank in connection with El-Atari’s loans.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Fahey and Jack Hanly are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.