A former Bluffton banker was ordered Tuesday to pay nearly $860,000 in restitution for devising a scheme to earn higher commissions, according to federal court documents.
Anglia Witte, a former loan officer at First Citizens Bank, was sentenced to probation Tuesday in Charleston for defrauding the company between 2005 and 2008, approving larger second mortgages than borrowers could afford.
To avoid the maximum penalty of 30 years, Witte accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty April 9 to disregarding the incomes and employment information provided by five borrowers, according to a case filed in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina. Witte then overstated that information in fields on the customers' computerized loan applications, securing them higher mortgages.
Her actions cost First Citizens Bank between $400,000 and $1 million in mortgage losses, the case states. It was not known Tuesday whether the borrowers defaulted on their loans.
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Witte earned between $4,000 and $5,000 in commissions over those three years, according to her lawyer, Mike Macloskie. She must now pay $859,533 or forfeit property of the same value.
Witte resorted to defrauding the company because of the highly competitive atmosphere of the banking industry at the time, Macloskie said.
"This thing occurred just before the banks in the United States went down the tubes," Macloskie said. "People were afraid they would be fired if they didn't produce and were encouraged to do this kind of thing by payment of commissions on the amounts they generated.
"This is a decent, honest person who made a bad mistake in judgment."
Attempts Tuesday to reach Witte and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart were unsuccessful. A representative of First Citizens Bank declined to comment.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.