Tomberlin pleads guilty in EFI fraud case

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

The second of three local businessmen indicted by a federal grand jury for his involvement in a $53 million loan fraud scheme in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty earlier this week.

John Tomberlin, who faced 15 counts of wrongdoing, admitted to four counts – committing conspiracy, mail fraud affecting a financial institution, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering – for his part in the Equipment Finance LLC, or EFI, loan fraud.

For both cases, he faces a total of up to 85 years in jail and $4.8 million in fines.

Tomberlin had been free on $50,000 bail, but after his Monday guilty plea, his bail was switched to home confinement. He also must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

According to the Lancaster Online, a Pennsylvania news organization, Tomberlin admitted that he helped create bogus loans to pad the books of EFI, a West Airport Road firm owned by Sterling Financial.

In addition, as a part owner of an Andalusia insurance, mortgage and real estate firm, Tomberlin played a key role in another part of the EFI scam by helping drain more than $1 million from EFI’s insurance escrow account. To do that, Tomberlin admitted he pretended his firm insured logging and land-clearing equipment that was acquired with EFI loans, which enabled his firm to bill the escrow account for insurance payments, the Lancaster Online reported.

Some of the funds were pocketed by Tomberlin and other conspirators, while some went to other phony borrowers who signed fake paperwork.

In the bank-fraud case, Tomberlin twice helped a loan officer at Peoples Bank of Coffee County profit on real estate loans approved by the loan officer. He also admitted that he paid a $50,000 kickback to the loan officer for approving a loan to one of his associates.

Tomberlin is due to be sentenced in both the EFI and Peoples Bank cases on Nov. 22 in Philadelphia.

Wiley Spann, the second local involved in the case, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy, mail fraud affecting a financial institution and money laundering for his part in the fraud. He is set for sentencing on Dec. 15.

No information is available about the case against Harold S. Young, the third local defendant in the case.

-Stephanie Nelson